LINCOLN, Maine — Police appealed for help and warned residents to lock their homes and vehicles as they worked Thursday to solve as many as 10 burglaries reported since early last month.
Mike’s Auto Repair on River Road and Ramsay Welding & Machine Inc. on Enfield Road are among four businesses and homes burglars apparently have hit since July 1, Police Chief Scott Minckler said.
Mike’s Auto Repair and a home on Tibbetts Drive were broken into, with cash and items stolen, on July 1. Ramsay Welding & Machine Inc. and an Enfield Road residence were burglarized on July 3. Anyone with information about the burglaries, or whose home or business has been burglarized, should contact police at 794-8455.
“We need as much information as we can get to continue the investigation,” Minckler said Thursday. “It’s too early to say that they are all connected, but we believe that some could possibly be connected.”
The four July burglaries join five break-ins or attempted break-ins, in which more than $2,000 worth of items were stolen in early June.
The Ballard Hill Community Center on Pleasant Street, Lincoln Trading & Pawn at 29 West Broadway, several vehicles parked downtown and an Evergreen Drive home were burglarized or targeted, police said. Nintendo Wii video game consoles and games, loose change, small appliances and some prescription drugs were stolen.
Police returned a Nintendo Wii console and several other stolen items to the recreation department a week ago, department director Rob Weatherbee said Thursday. He said he did not know how police acquired them. Replacement of the other stolen items awaits an insurance settlement, he said.
Police are following several leads, Minckler said. The burglaries have some similarities. In most cases, items were easily taken and doors and windows were opened or forced open.
Mike’s Auto owner Mike Tompkins found his business’s back door pushed in and $476 stolen when he came to work on July 1.
“They tried to break the safe in, but couldn’t do it,” Tompkins said. “They never touched anything [else]. I could not believe it. I think under the circumstances they were just looking for money. That was it.”
The Ramsay Welding & Machine Inc. burglary was similar, owner Jeff Fogg said.
“It appears right now that mostly what they got was change out of desk drawers and so forth, and out of vending machines,” Fogg said. “There was no damage done to the building or other machines. It was what they could walk away with very quickly.”
The total amount of money or value of items stolen in all of the crimes was not available Thursday.
Fogg said that residents or passers-by should do everything to help police solve the crimes, such as quickly reporting people hanging out around businesses at night, when most of the burglaries appear to have occurred.
Fogg, whose business has been burglarized three times since 2003, expressed frustration at having been stolen from after video surveillance cameras were installed. He would not say whether the burglars were identifiable.
“It is obviously very discouraging. It is local individuals who are able to stop by, look things over and not be conspicuous. They seem to be able to work around our defenses,” Fogg said. “It gives the perpetrators a great deal of confidence that they can do this and not be stopped.
“We have a population of 5,000 people and the town is 90 square miles,” he added, “so I can’t blame the police or say that they should have been here in my yard” when the crime occurred.
“The police are trying to do their job. They just haven’t had any good leads,” Tompkins said. “I think they have some halfway decent leads now. They just have to follow through on them.”
The Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office is assisting police, Tompkins said. Sheriff’s deputies visited his business on Tuesday, he said.
Fogg said the burglaries distract his employees and damage his business, a custom manufacturing and repair welding and machine shop that employs 16 people.
“I think all of us have to be very diligent,” Fogg said.