Belfast police arrest man in armed robbery case Belfast police arrest man in armed robbery case

Posted June 16, 2009, at 7:57 p.m.

BELFAST, Maine — City police have arrested a local man in connection with an armed home invasion on High Street early Tuesday.

Phillip Gardiner, 21, of Belfast was arrested after being tracked to a tent in woods near the Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad tracks where he was staying with his wife of five weeks. Gardiner, who has a lengthy history of property crimes in the city and is on probation, was arrested for violating the terms of his release. Additional charges are expected.

“More charges are coming,” Police Chief Jeffrey Trafton said Tuesday. “He has a long history with us. He was not a stranger to the law enforcement officers that responded to the home invasion.”

Police received a call from the residence on High Street at 1:36 a.m. Through interviews they determined that a man armed with a knife and wearing a hooded sweat shirt entered the apartment and startled a man sleeping on a couch. The intruder pressed the knife to the awakened man and warned him against saying anything or he would be hurt.

“Apparently the person on the couch didn’t do as requested,” Trafton said. “He yelled and woke up the whole house.”

As occupants came rushing downstairs and into the room, the intruder turned to run but tripped over a box and dropped the knife before getting out of the house.

Sgt. John Gibbs and patrol Officers Brian Lunt and Wendall Ward tracked him down an embankment to the edge of the Passagassawakeag River. They then waited until Maine State Police Trooper Shawn Porter and his tracking dog Tex arrived before continuing the search.

Tex led the officers along the tracks and into the woods. On their way, the dog located a hooded sweat shirt on the ground that fit the description of the one the intruder was wearing. Tex suddenly veered left into the woods and led the searchers to a tent. Gardiner and his wife were found inside.

The officers immediately recognized Gardiner and knew he was on probation. They determined he was drinking in violation of the terms of his probation. Once they called his probation officer, they received permission to search the tent. Inside was a pair of sneakers soaked with water and covered in mud. Also found were items taken during a burglary that occurred Monday on Mill Lane.

When Detective Michael McFadden interviewed him at the Waldo County Jail later that morning, Gardiner admitted being at the High Street residence but claimed he remained outside while another man entered the apartment. Gardiner also blamed the other man for the burglary.

Gardiner’s wife told police her husband left sometime during the night but she did not know where he had gone.

The incident remains under investigation.

wgriffin@bangordailynews.net

338-9546

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