BELFAST, Maine — The allure of easy money was just too much for a couple of suspects from the Belfast area who took a Volvo to Bangor to sell it for scrap metal, Belfast police say.
Michael H. Reynolds, 34, of Swanville was charged Monday with theft and Shawna Ferrell, 31, of Northport was charged with operating after suspension, Belfast police Detective Sgt. Bryan Cunningham said on Tuesday. More charges are pending, he said.
The theft occurred Friday, April 22, and was reported on Saturday.
A local man recently purchased the 1996 Volvo, which had sat for sale on Jesse Robbins Road in Belfast for quite a while, and he had been working on the vehicle from where it sat to get it running, Cunningham said. But when the victim went to work on his new car on Saturday it was missing, the detective said.
Luckily for the car owner, however, an observant Belfast police officer noticed a couple with a small silver SUV loading the stolen vehicle onto a trailer the day before and notified Officer Matthew Cook, who is the lead investigator in the theft case.
Police put a call out to local Belfast area media who notified residents about the theft and a number of tips were received that led investigators to Belfast Recycling in Swanville and then to OneSteel Recycling in Bangor, Cunningham said.
Bangor police Officer Steve Jordan met with the vehicle owner at OneSteel and found the Volvo on the recycling pile. The recycling facility’s price for scrap vehicles on Friday was $190 a ton, but it wasn’t clear Tuesday how much the suspects netted.
Reynolds, who is out on bail condition with three sets of bail conditions, used a “bogus” bill of sale when he sold the junk vehicle to OneSteel, Cunningham said. He was easily tracked down thanks to a 2008 law that requires scrap metal processors to pay sellers with checks for anything over $50.
Ferrell is facing additional charges because “it was her vehicle that they used to tow” the stolen car, the Belfast sergeant said. The Bangor officer charged the couple on behalf of the Belfast police, he said.
Car thefts by criminal scrappers are not very common, but scrap metal thefts are, Cunningham said.
“We don’t get a lot of vehicles getting stolen, but a lot of people are coming back [to Maine] or are opening up camps and they are finding they don’t have any water pipes or their wiring is missing,” he said.
Officials with the Maine State Police and Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office also are reporting that vacant homes are a target of criminal scrappers who are breaking into them to steal water, heating and other pipes and electrical wiring.
The victim in the Belfast car theft has lost the $600 he paid for the Volvo and the money he invested in fixing it because the vehicle is no longer worth trying to repair, Cunningham said.
“There was no point in towing it back,” he said. “It wasn’t worth anything.”