MACHIAS, Maine — State, county and local police converged on Machias on Wednesday evening after a man in a gray GMC pickup truck reportedly stole hundreds of dollars’ worth of items from a local business about 4:30 p.m.
Within an hour, a suspect was in custody.
Richard L. Griffin, 57, of Danvers, Mass., was caught on a woods road off Route 192 by Washington County Deputy Keith York.
Machias Police Chief Grady Dwelley reported that Griffin, operating a 2005 pickup, opened a side garage door on a storage building at 31 Main St. used by the owners of Main Street Discount, which is directly across the street.
Roland and Sylvia Pouliot own Main Street Discount and the bar next door, The Thirsty Moose. Roland Pouliot was operating the bar when he spotted the truck backing into the storage building. He called Sylvia, who went across the street to see what was going on.
“I used my key to get in the front door and there he was. He had backed right into the building and was loading up his truck — furniture, weed whackers, chain saws — I’m not sure what he got,” Sylvia Pouliot said moments after the incident.
Pouliot said she yelled at the man, “Wait right there. I’m calling the police.” The man didn’t reply but jumped in the truck and attempted to leave. Pouliot, 65, jumped into action, stood in front of the truck and held on to the hood with both arms extended.
“He didn’t care. He would have run me over if I hadn’t jumped out of the way,” Pouliot said.
Asked why she got in front of the vehicle, Pouliot said she thought it would slow the driver down and enable her to get the truck’s license plate number.
Once the vehicle sped off, she was able to run back across the street to her store and call police. She provided an accurate license number and description of the truck.
Dwelley said the vehicle was spotted heading north on Route 192 where Griffin reportedly pulled into a field and dumped the stolen goods.
“We actually drove right by him,” Dwelley said, referring to state and local police.
But when Dwelley doubled back, he and York spotted the vehicle as it headed down a woods road. Dwelley said Griffin was arrested and charged with robbery.
Griffin was reportedly in the area raking blueberries. Dwelley said he was taken to the Washington County Jail and that charges of burglary and theft are pending.
“What a lot of nerve this guy had,” Pouliot said, back behind the counter at Main Street Discount. “Right in broad daylight.”