BANGOR, Maine — A Mattawamkeag man charged in connection with two burglaries and a theft, who police believe may be involved in a larger ring responsible for about 35 burglaries in the region, told a judge Monday that he “screwed up” and deserved to do time in jail.
Steven W. Springer, 28, appeared via video conference from Penobscot County Jail in a Penobscot Judicial Center courtroom before District Court Judge Bruce Jordan, who set Springer’s bail at $15,000 cash. That bail will be reviewable at a later date when Springer’s attorney has a chance to study the case, Jordan said.
The attorney representing Springer on Monday, Dennis Hamrick, argued the bail amount should be lower, as Springer has been out of work, has three juvenile children, and a medical condition that requires him to take daily eye drops that he doesn’t have in jail. Hamrick also said that though Springer has a criminal history, he has never failed to appear in court on past charges.
While the judge and attorney were discussing the bail amount, Springer spoke up, saying, “I screwed up, I know I screwed up. I deserve to do time.”
The grand jury has yet to review the case, so Springer has not been arraigned.
If released on bail, Springer is barred from using or possessing alcohol or illegal drugs and must submit to random searches and tests. He also has a curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. and also can’t return to Haskell Lumber Co., S.W. Collins Lumber or Roger’s Small Engine Repair in Lincoln.
Penobscot County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy and Lincoln Public Safety Director Dan Summers said after Springer’s arrest this weekend he is suspected of belonging to a burglary ring of about a dozen suspects that a police task force has been chasing since the break-ins began in mid-July.
Springer was charged with burglarizing Haskell Lumber at 431 Main St., Roger’s Small Engine Repair at 260 Main St., and a motor vehicle early Saturday, Almy and Summers said.
A surveillance videotape taken from one of the businesses, and neighbors who identified Springer as the man they saw riding a bicycle through the neighborhood immediately after the burglaries, helped a Lincoln police officer find and charge Springer with the three break-ins on Saturday.
After going to S.W. Collins to investigate the reported robbery and speaking with a woman who said her car had been burglarized, police found and questioned Springer, who was riding a bicycle on Route 2 in Winn.
Springer claimed he hadn’t been in Lincoln that morning, but several witnesses interviewed later by police said they had seen him, according to the police report. Police went to track down Springer again.
They spotted Springer near the Big Apple in Mattawamkeag, and Springer turned his bike off the road after seeing police cars. Officers found him lying in a ditch near the woods, according to the police report. Walsh then arrested Springer.
When police searched Springer’s pockets, they found several different denominations of cash, including about $32.75 in quarters, $4.40 in dimes, 22 nickels, and 93 pennies, as well as $69 worth of small bills.
Walsh also found a broken piece of glass in one of Springer’s pockets and said he believed that came from the broken window at S.W. Collins.
Shooters, Mainely Rent to Own, F.A. Peabody Co., Lincoln News, Capello Hair Salon and Day Spa, Avanti Bridal and Boutique, Benjamin Tibbetts Inc., North Country Auto and U.S. Cellular are among the businesses on West Broadway in Lincoln hit since July. Another dozen burglaries have been reported in Chester, Lee, Mattawamkeag and Winn, Summers has said.
East Millinocket police also are investigating two business burglaries reported Oct. 21 in Medway for which Springer is a person of interest, East Millinocket police Chief Cameron McDunnah said.
East Millinocket police collected evidence at an Irving convenience store and D&M Trailer Sales and Service in Medway when the burglaries were reported that day and from Lincoln police on Saturday, McDunnah said.
The burglars have been difficult to catch, police said, because they employ lookouts and have been monitoring police radio transmissions to track patrols. They might also be calling in false complaints or waiting for police to respond to other calls to buy time for the break-ins.
Springer’s criminal record includes convictions for burglary and theft involving a safe in a Mattawamkeag garage in 2004, and burglary of a motor vehicle in Lincoln in 2006.
Bangor Daily News reporter Nick Sambides Jr. contributed to this report.