BANGOR, Maine — Four offices located in the Coe Building between Columbia and Main streets were burglarized overnight after the close of business Friday, bringing to seven the total number of businesses in a relatively small area which have been hit in the last four weeks.
Just five days after thieves broke into Northstar Photography on Columbia Street and stole $3,800 worth of equipment — and almost four weeks after a break-in at Sweetest Thing Studio just two doors down on Columbia resulted in $4,000 in equipment and cash taken — burglars struck four business offices inside the Coe Building late Friday night or early Saturday morning.
“It’s actually more than that. There have been some other burglaries in the area that haven’t been reported,” said Paul Cook, owner of Maine Real Estate Management. “I’ve also had issues at 21 Main St. [office building] with vandalism and burglary and I know both the Aware Center [on 61 Main St.] and Antique Marketplace and Cafe [65 Main] have had burglaries.”
Cook, whose company manages the Coe Building, also uses an office inside. That office was one of the four that was burglarized.
“It’s frustrating. There’s been a lot of damage,” said Cook, who considered himself lucky to have had only $200 in cash stolen. “This building was built in 1928 and there’s a lot of original woodwork and architecture, and they’re ripping door jambs off, breaking windows, and there’s some vandalism, too.”
The three other businesses which were broken into this weekend were Pulse Marketing Agency, Paul Trommer’s real estate office, and Hometown Newspapers, which publishes periodicals such as the Northwoods Sporting Journal.
“It’s all the same block, despite the different addresses,” said Cook, who has been in the real estate management business for 20 years. “I’d defer to the police on who’s doing it, but the behavior and area seems to indicate it’s got to be the same group of people.”
Bangor police Sgt. Paul Edwards wouldn’t comment on the burglaries, saying only that it was an ongoing investigation. He had no updates on the ongoing case Sunday evening and said there might be further information available Monday morning.
“Officers told me they assume it’s the same group of people doing this,” said Cintia Miranda, owner of Pulse Marketing Agency, which is physically located at 61 Main St. with a 50 Columbia St. mailing address. “They must be on foot, too, because they only take smaller stuff they can carry.
“When we were checking to see what was missing, we found another laptop that wasn’t ours in one of our drawers. Apparently they swapped one of ours for one they’d already taken from another business.”
The burglars appear to be targeting portable electronic equipment like laptops, iPads and cameras, as well as cash.
“They took our best computers, left two older ones, [and took] a professional media camcorder and an electronic photo camera,” said Miranda, who was notified of the break-ins at 7 a.m. Saturday.
About $4,000 worth of equipment was stolen from both Pulse and Hometown Newspapers, and $2,000 in damage was done inside the building.
While she does have insurance and all of her Web files are securely stored on an outside server, Miranda says her three-year-old business’ four-member staff has been severely hampered due to the loss of crucial equipment.
“I have some personal computers at home which I will bring in to work in the meantime. I don’t have the camera equipment, so if I got a job to shoot commercial footage, I wouldn’t be able to do it,” she said.
Both Cook and Miranda have voiced concerns over safety and security in the area even before this most recent burglary.
“Thursday I talked to Paul and voiced by concerns with safety and security at this building and I set up an appointment with ADT to install a security system,” said Miranda, who said she has also conveyed her concerns to Bangor City Councilor and Mayor Cary Weston. “Stuff I’ve seen in the area, and with Pickering Square and how we sometimes get harassed by some of the people over there concerns me.
Police officers were still on site investigating the break-ins late Saturday afternoon. Miranda said they thoroughly fingerprinted the office and were very helpful.
“I know the police have their hands full and their staff level is down, but it really is hurting us, and it’s hurting the idea of downtown,” Cook said. “It’s a major issue.”
Cook is optimistic the culprits will be found, however.
“I’m extremely confident we’ll find a solution and get a break in this before too long,” he said.