MILLINOCKET, Maine — Police have increased patrols around the closed Katahdin Avenue paper mill to discourage boat-riding burglars who use Millinocket Stream to access the mill and steal scrap metal, Police Chief Donald Bolduc said Thursday.
Though it is probably running at a lower level thanks to the lack of rain recently, the stream can accommodate boaters.
“They recently dropped the water for work on the Dolby dam but normally the water can probably be as much as 15 feet across by the mill. It is a fairly wide stream, probably 75-100 feet in some areas, and it can be in some areas as much as 15-20 feet deep,” Bolduc said Thursday.
Police, however, have no intention of starting a boat patrol, Bolduc said.
Besides police, the mill is patrolled by a private security force employed by Cate Street Capital, the New Hampshire-based owner of the mill. Anyone attempting to get into the mill risks more than arrest, Bolduc said.
“It is posted with ‘No Trespassing’ signs, and it is a vacant mill, so there is a lot of potential for injury in that area,” he said.
Police believe that the boaters have been launching from Kermit Crandall Park along Congress Street and heading downstream to access the mill property.
Though thieves have for decades used the stream to break into the mill even when it was operational, an arrest earlier in the month alerted police to the severity of the problem, Bolduc said.
Kraig Ayotte, 22, of Millinocket was charged on June 9 with burglary, theft and receiving stolen property. He is due in Millinocket District Court on Sept. 5.
Ayotte was arrested at his home after police served a search warrant and found evidence enough to support the charges, Bolduc said. The search warrant was based on a tip police received and other information collected.
Ayotte’s only prior criminal convictions were fines totaling $400 for driving without a license and driving with a suspended license, court records show.
Hunters have occasionally trespassed on the mill property in search of deer on Coal Ash Road and what is called the bark pile. The road parallels the stream and the bark pile draws deer in search of food, Bolduc said.
Because of incorrect information provided by police, a previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Chris Helms of Millinocket was charged on June 7 with criminal trespassing and theft. He was not charged in connection with the burglaries.