POLICE BEAT

Man, 14-year-old accomplice arrested in large-scale shoplifting spree

Posted Oct. 20, 2011, at 7:42 p.m.

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Local police called in the Maine State Police tactical team to help arrest a suspected thief after viewing a photo of him on Facebook armed with what looked like a submachine gun and a handgun.

The weapons turned out to be fake and Steven Bouchard, 23, and a 14-year-old girl accomplice were arrested without incident Wednesday afternoon after search warrants were executed on their residences at 44 and 46 Micmac Drive, according to Presque Isle Police Chief Matt Irwin.

The arrests were connected to the shoplifting of thousands of dollars worth of items from the local Walmart, according to police.

Irwin said one of his officers recognized Bouchard from Walmart surveillance footage of the shoplifters. He said officers were startled by what they saw when they subsequently accessed Bouchard’s Facebook site.

“He was holding what appeared to be a submachine gun and he had a handgun in his waistband,” said the chief, referring to photos on the social networking site. “It turned out that they were Airsoft guns, but they would have fooled any police officer. They did not have red tips around them or anything.”

It appears the Airsoft guns may also be among the items stolen from Walmart, police said.

Lead investigator Kevin Reed of PIPD said Bouchard “also had menacing captions under the photos and he mentioned on his site how much he admired the Mafia. We wanted to be cautious and ensure safety, so we called in the tactical team. I think that any officer who had those guns pointed at him would believe they were real and that his life was in jeopardy.”

Reed said that Bouchard and the girl conducted the thefts over a three-day period, walking away with Nintendo DS systems and accessories, iPod accessories, hunting knives and more.

Reed said he is convinced that the two thieves had “done this before” because they went into the store armed with knives in order to cut special packaging and security features off gaming machines and other products. They allegedly stole the display model of one gaming system by cutting off packaging used to secure it and then cut open the box to another system in order to steal wires to run it. Video surveillance also reportedly shows the girl taking the stolen items into the bathroom to cut off the security features. Reed said that material was recovered from Walmart trash cans.

“I think there were approximately 22 items that we were able to seize in the search warrant,” said Reed.

He said that the girl was on probation for robbery and assault committed when she was 13 years old.

Bouchard has a prior criminal history in Massachusetts and an active warrant in Maine for violation of bail conditions. His criminal history includes receiving stolen property, larceny, receiving a stolen vehicle and breaking and entering. He was charged by police with felony theft and three counts of violation of conditions of release.

The girl was charged with felony theft.

Reed credited the asset protection team at Walmart for its work on the case.

“When I questioned Bouchard about why he stole the items, he basically said that you have to do what you have to do,” Reed said. “They basically allegedly stole these items just to deprive people.”

Information on whether Bouchard had made bail was not available Thursday. Irwin said he contacted Micmac officials before the search warrants were executed on the residences, which are on tribal land. He credited Micmac tribal administrators for their assistance and said that the department is looking forward to a continuing relationship with the new administration.

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