BROOKS, Maine — Four men — including a father and son — have been arrested for their alleged roles in a series of burglaries in the towns of Brooks, Jackson, Troy, Monroe and Knox.
A fifth man who has been described as “the hub” of the burglaries is on the lam. Waldo County Sheriff’s Office investigators are asking the public for help finding 24-year-old Billy Joe Hall of Brooks.
Patrick R. Bickford, 22, of Brooks, his father, Smith Leroy Bickford, 48, of Jackson, Jonathan David McCue, 22, of Knox, and Zachary T. Milliken, 28, of Dixmont were arrested.
During this year and last, the men broke into camps, homes and buildings and stole metal, vehicles and firearms, among other objects, according to a news release from the Waldo County Sheriff’s Office.
Detective Merl Reed of the Sheriff’s Office has been investigating the case for quite a while, according to Lt. Jason Trundy.
“It was pretty much a free-for-all,” Trundy said of the thefts. “It was a matter of opportunity.”
The men’s burglary techniques varied, Trundy said. In some instances they reportedly went into vacant houses and cut copper piping out of the basement. In others, they would back a pulp loader truck up to a broken-down vehicle, grab the car, load it onto the truck and take it to sell for scrap metal.
According to the police, Hall would find one of the other men and then commit a burglary.
“They all knew each other to some degree, yes, but Billy was usually the centerpoint,” Trundy said.
During Reed’s investigation, the detective obtained leads from community members who reportedly had heard rumors or perhaps bragging about the crimes. After getting a couple of names, Reed began conducting interviews. One of the early interviews led to a confession to several burglaries, Trundy said.
“Merl is an incredibly tenacious investigator,” the lieutenant said. “You just keep going back and forth until you clear up everything you think you can clear up.”
Patrick Bickford was charged with four counts of burglary, one count of burglary of a motor vehicle and seven counts of theft.
Smith Bickford was charged with one count of burglary of a motor vehicle and three counts of theft.
McCue was charged with one count of burglary and one count of theft.
Milliken was charged with one count of burglary and two counts of theft.
Hall has arrest warrants issued for one count of burglary and one count of theft.
Additional charges are expected to be brought by the Waldo County grand jury, which is meeting this week, said Trundy, but no more people are expected to be charged with crimes.
All but Hall have been arrested and then released from jail on bail, he said.
Police have heard rumors that Hall has taken off and is now out of state and also that he may still be hanging out in the area.
“We’re very interested in finding him,” Trundy said.
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Billy Hall is asked to notify the Waldo County Sheriff’s Office at 338-2040.