LINCOLN, Maine — A crew of burglars continues to elude police and to target West Broadway businesses with five more break-ins or attempts this week.
The burglars hit new targets starting at 1 a.m. Sunday: Lincoln News, Capello Hair Salon and Day Spa, Avanti Bridal and Boutique, Benjamin Tibbetts Inc. and North Country Auto, Lincoln police Sgt. Glenn Graef said.
Graef expressed confidence that investigators will eventually make some arrests.
“We are maintaining a focus,” Graef said Wednesday. “We’ve got a strategy in place and we will continue to investigate these crimes.”
Alarms scared the burglars from the first target, Lincoln News, and from Tibbetts, a hardware store, about 15 minutes later. The burglars tore weather stripping from a door in their unsuccessful attempt to get into the weekly newspaper’s office. Tibbetts had no damage, Graef said.
Officer John Walsh answered the call from Penobscot County Regional Communications Center dispatchers. He searched the area around the buildings and called state police Trooper Barry Meserve and his search dog, but the track they found at Tibbetts soon disappeared, Graef said.
Workers at North Country Auto reported an undetermined amount of money, and a 2005 Chevy Trailblazer, stolen from their used-car business at 7 a.m. that day, Graef said. Penobscot County Sheriff’s Deputy Patricia McLaughlin later found the truck in Mattawamkeag. State Trooper David Yankowski took evidence from the truck, Graef said.
Lincoln police, the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office and state police formed a task force several weeks ago to catch this particular burglary crew, which Town Manager William Lawrence has said has three to 10 members and is responsible for a dozen burglaries prior to Sunday. Other agencies are assisting, Graef said.
The prior targets include Rent to Own at 157 West Broadway and three other West Broadway businesses. They include an insurance company, F.A. Peabody Co., a hair salon and a U.S. Cellular store, all across the street from Rent to Own. Burglars have hit several of those outlets more than once.
The businesses are within a half-mile stretch of West Broadway. Police suspect that the burglars are drug addicts or have recently been released from prison. The burglaries are simple smash-and-grabs, with cash taken from cash registers, police have said.
Investigators have collected a vast amount of forensic evidence from windows, chairs and doors, plus comparison samples from suspects. They await the results of tests from the state crime lab in Augusta. Detective Mark Fucile and Yankowski visited the lab on Tuesday. Several Lincoln officers have worked vacation time since the burglary spree began early this month.
Lab workers have made Lincoln’s evidence a priority, Graef said.
Police are taking extra precautions that Graef won’t discuss for fear of alerting the burglars. Town businesses have also responded well to the burglaries, locking more doors and leaving less cash in their registers, Graef said.
Anyone with information about the burglars or who has been burglarized is asked to call police at 794-8455. All calls will be kept confidential, police said.