LINCOLN, Maine — A 16-year-old issued summonses earlier this week in connection with six of at least 15 vehicle burglaries police are investigating was stealing for food and is probably homeless, Police Chief William Lawrence said Thursday.
The boy, who is not being identified because he is a juvenile, was issued summonses for six counts each of theft and burglary to a motor vehicle, Lawrence said.
Lawrence described the teenager as a former Mattanawcook Academy student who was moving among several friends’ homes until he was issued the summonses on Tuesday night. The latest friend he had been staying with kicked the youth out because he had been stealing from them as well, Lawrence said.
“It is a sad story of parents [who] kick a kid out of the house because they can’t control him,” Lawrence said Thursday. “He appears to have no direction in life and is just trying to get by day to day and doesn’t want to follow the rules at home or in school.”
Police Officer Brandi Alton charged the youth after interviewing him on Tuesday. Alton and the youth went to several places Tuesday night that he identified as locations of thefts he had committed, Lawrence said. The locations matched police reports of thefts that residents had filed.
The teenager does not appear to have a drug addiction, Lawrence said.
“He did cooperate, to an extent, with us, so I mean, it shows us that there is some conscience there,” Lawrence said. “He realized what he did, and that what he did was wrong, but the chances for him look bleak without him being in school and without guidance.”
Alton developed the youth as a suspect after he had crashed a vehicle in Enfield last weekend and police found several items that they identified as taken in several of the car burglaries, police have said.
The sad irony, Lawrence said, is that nothing the police have done will likely deter the thefts if the teenager, who remains free, decides to continue breaking into vehicles.
Under the state juvenile justice system, the youth cannot be incarcerated because the offenses he is charged with are not serious enough to warrant immediate jailing, Lawrence said.
The juvenile corrections officer assigned the teenager’s case could propose remedial action or assistance, but that won’t happen until the case goes to District Court. Lawrence said he did not have the youth’s court date available.
And while there is a place for homeless youths to stay in Bangor, the Katahdin and Lincoln Lakes regions lack such a place, Lawrence said.
“It really is a community problem because this is just not a police problem. It is a parental issue, it is a school issue, and it affects the whole community,” Lawrence said. “What is going to prevent it [more theft] from happening? Even though we brought charges, what is to say that it is not going to continue?”
“It is frustrating for police,” he added. “We have done what we can do and unless someone else steps up to the plate, what can anyone do?”