BELFAST, Maine — Over the weekend, dozens of teenagers reportedly jimmied a lock and snuck into an unused warehouse in Belfast and commenced to party.
They had supplies of alcohol, marijuana and designated rooms for certain types of activities that they labeled with Post-it notes, according to Chief Mike McFadden of the Belfast Police Department.
What they hadn’t counted on was a person calling police early Monday morning with a tip about the party raging in the former Harborside Graphics building on Lower Congress Street.
“When we arrived, we found that in fact there were people in the warehouse, all of whom were underaged,” McFadden said, adding that the oldest people in attendance were 19.
Police have issued 17 citations for underage drinking so far. McFadden expects more citations will come as the investigation continues. Police are looking into the identities of other teenage partiers and trying to determine how they procured alcohol and drugs.
The chief took the opportunity to emphasize the important role community members play when it comes to keeping the city safe.
“We were able to respond to the location, check it out and discover what we discovered, all because someone called in anonymously and tipped the police off,” McFadden said. “I can’t stress enough the importance of the public giving us information about these underage drinking parties. We try our best to keep informed, and sometimes that’s not enough.”
He said that if the police had not gotten the tip, the situation could have been worse. Teens could have been drinking and driving, for example.
“They’d already exercised pretty poor judgement going into a building they had no right to be in,” he said. “Your guess is as good as mine as to what would have happened if the police hadn’t come in. It would have been a gamble as to whether or not anybody got hurt.”
McFadden calls the Sunday night party the “poster incident” for the start of summer.
“This stuff is going on in our communities — we all need to work together to keep the kids safe and on the right path,” he said. “Have a good time this summer, have your fun, but be responsible in doing so. Underage drinking is a problem, and we have zero tolerance here … . No one should feel comfortable or safe providing alcohol to the youth in our community.”
To reach a Belfast police officer or make an anonymous report, call 338-2040.