Auburn man accused in charity burglary fights extradition to N.H.

Posted Sept. 27, 2013, at 6:11 a.m.

AUBURN, Maine — A local man who faces a theft charge here is fighting extradition to New Hampshire where he is wanted on a warrant charging two burglaries at a nonprofit organization in Portsmouth.

James Birkbeck III, 39, of 54 Fifth St. turned himself in at Androscoggin County Jail on Tuesday on a fugitive from justice warrant stemming from a warrant out of New Hampshire on two counts of burglary.

He remains in jail in lieu of $1,000 cash bail.

Birkbeck is facing a misdemeanor theft charge in a July 9 incident in which a Lewiston woman complained that he stole her wallet that contained $400 from her Lisbon Street apartment.

He has pleaded not guilty to a charge of theft by unauthorized taking or transfer. A trial date is set for Oct. 29. He is indigent and was appointed a lawyer by the court.

Birkbeck pleaded guilty earlier this month to a similar theft charge in which a city woman complained that he took her wallet that contained $320 on July 7.

He was fined $100 and was ordered to pay $320 in restitution to the woman.

Capt. Mark Schwartz of the Portsmouth Police Department said Thursday that Birkbeck declined extradition to New Hampshire to face the burglary charges.

He was reportedly seen fleeing from 446 Market St., Portsmouth on Saturday when an employee at New Hampshire Charitable Foundation allegedly interrupted a burglary in progress, Portsmouth police said.

In the late 1990s, police across this state began searching for Birkbeck in connection with a slew of burglaries in Lewiston and the surrounding area.

Nine arrest warrants from Lewiston and Auburn police as well as the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office were issued at the time, charging him with burglary, theft, assault, criminal mischief, violating bail conditions and failure to appear in court.

He was accused of entering apartments in Lewiston and Auburn while elderly tenants were home and taking jewelry and other items.

Schwartz said the county attorney for Portsmouth was notified and likely will seek a governor’s warrant with the aim of beginning the process of extraditing Birkbeck to New Hampshire.

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