LINCOLN, Maine — Police warned residents to lock their homes and vehicles and report strangers in their neighborhoods Wednesday because at least 10 burglaries have occurred in town since Aug. 13.
Of particular concern to Police Chief William Flagg is that two burglaries were overnight break-ins where residents were obviously at home. One occurred on Enfield Road late Tuesday; the other, the previous night, on Albert Drive, he said.
“These are burglaries where the burglars have gotten into the homes without being detected,” Flagg said Wednesday. “However, the risk factor for violence goes up dramatically if a resident were to suddenly wake up and be confronted by a burglar in a bedroom or in their homes.”
The burglaries, Flagg said, occurred quickly, without anything being broken and without confrontation with victims. The thieves also appear to desire cash and small items that can be easily pawned, he said.
Yet the potential for violence, and the rapidity with which this series of crimes has occurred, has police on “heightened alert,” Flagg said.
The value of the items taken is $1,000 to $2,000, according to early estimates, Flagg said. At least three burglaries occurred in residences while the others targeted vehicles. The crimes were reported on Albert Drive, Enfield and Lee roads and on Washington Street, Flagg said.
Anyone who has information about the burglaries or who might have been a victim of one is asked to call police at 794-8455.
Flagg declined to say whether police have any suspects or are close to making an arrest. Investigators are checking whether other, similar series of burglaries have occurred in, or are connected to, crimes reported in other municipalities.
Over the summer last year, roughly 40 burglaries occurred in the Lincoln area, with thieves targeting automobiles, houses, camps and garages usually left open by their owners.
These were also described as crimes of opportunity, thefts occurring due to the absence of elementary security precautions — with doors usually left unlocked — wherein the thieves took items that could be quickly converted into cash, possibly to maintain substance-abuse habits.
Stolen items included cell phones, loose change, cash and prescription drugs. The majority of the thefts occurred in and around downtown Lincoln with some reported as far away as Long Pond.
Three arrests were made in connection with at least three of those burglaries.
To help counteract that crime wave, Flagg appointed Sgt. Kevin Giberson to a special assignment. Giberson looked for links among burglaries and suspects that the patrol officers didn’t have time to search for because they were too busy going from call to call.
Flagg declined to comment Wednesday on what steps police were taking to stop the latest burglaries, though he did say that a state police officer was assisting Officer Chad Chubbuck, the lead investigator, in the investigation.