WINTERPORT, Maine — An investigation into an Orrington gun shop burglary in August has led police to charge two men in connection with the separate theft of about $35,000 worth of tools from an auto body shop in Winterport, police said Monday.
Justin McGowan, 21, of Orrington and Brandon Caparotta, 19, of Winterport both have been charged with Class C burglary and Class B theft in connection with the mid-August theft of tools from Forrest Auto Body in Winterport, Lt. Jason Trundy of the Waldo County Sheriff’s Office said Monday. The more serious Class B crime is punishable by up to 10 years in jail and a $20,000 fine.
The theft charge was elevated to Class B because the stolen property was greater in value than $10,000, Trundy explained.
“There was a huge volume of tools taken,” Trundy said. “It wasn’t a smash-and-grab.”
Police first suspected that Caparotta was involved with the Winterport burglary after agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives searched his apartment in connection with the Aug. 23 theft of firearms from Mill Creek Rod & Gun in Orrington, Detective Merl Reed of the Sheriff’s Office said Monday.
“During their investigation, they came across a large number of tools,” Reed said. “They contacted me to see if we’d had a recent burglary of a large number of tools, and we had. That led us to Caparotta and McGowan.”
Caparotta was arrested Aug. 26 and charged with theft of firearms from a federally licensed dealer in connection with the Orrington gun case. He also was issued two criminal summonses on Aug. 26 for the Forrest Auto Body burglary, Reed said.
It took officials longer to charge McGowan in the auto body burglary because they had a hard time finding him, the detective said.
“McGowan was off and running,” Reed said. “He was avoiding talking to law enforcement.”
A warrant was issued for his arrest on Friday and he was arrested the next day by a trooper from the Orono barracks of the Maine State Police, Reed said. McGowan has been charged only in connection with the Forrest Auto Body burglary.
During that burglary, which was reported on Aug. 17, robbers made away with entire sets of tools, a laptop computer programmed to do auto body repair work and much more, Trundy said Monday.
“It’s an extensive list — from hand tools to power tools to specialty auto body shop tools,” he said.
Many of the stolen goods have been recovered and returned to the business, the lieutenant said.
Both men originally were arrested in the Bangor area, not in Waldo County, Trundy said.
Both Caparotta and McGowan since have been released from Penobscot County Jail on bail.