LEWISTON, Maine — The boxes just kept coming and coming. Boxes stuffed with G.I. Joes, Barbie dolls and other old toys still inside their original boxes.
These are collectors items and Glenn Davis never expected to see them again.
“I’m pretty happy,” the Sabattus man said.
Davis and his wife, Jacqueline, were at the Lewiston police station Thursday, collecting items stolen last month when somebody broke into their rented storage unit at a business on North Lisbon Road.
At least a half dozen people fell victim to the July 24 break-in, losing a variety of valuables they believed were gone forever.
Police had other plans. For nearly a month, investigators from several departments have been developing and tracking down leads. In Lewiston, Detectives Derek St. Laurent and Carley Conley have been working with their counterparts from other areas, looking into burglaries similar to that which occurred at Moore Self-Storage last month.
This week, pay dirt. Police from Lewiston and Auburn were joined by others from Androscoggin and Cumberland counties. They served a search warrant at an Auburn home and found quite a cache of stolen goods.
“The police just did a fantastic job,” said Jacqueline Stowe-Davis, who was helping her husband load up their SUV on Thursday. “We were so excited about this. We really didn’t think there was any chance we would see our stuff again.”
Unfortunately, they later discovered that the recovered goods were not in the same shape as they were before they were stolen. Whoever committed the burglaries did not go out of their way to treat the loot with care.
“The clothing and packaging were wet and many of the things thrown into boxes were broken,” Jacqueline said. “The G.I. Joes action figures are missing heads and limbs, some of which were found in the bottom of the boxes. Many of the die-casts were also ruined. Most are no longer in mint condition, which decreases the value of these.”
No one has been charged with the break-ins yet, but police say arrests are very likely. The matter remains under investigation.
“Excellent work by all the departments involved,” Lewiston police Lt. Michael McGonagle said. “They put a lot of time and effort into it. They developed leads and they followed up on every one.”
For Glenn Davis, you could see the relief Thursday. Taken in the heist were his collectible G.I. Joes, comic books and Star Wars memorabilia.
“They might not be worth a lot of money, but they were mine,” Glenn said on the day the theft was discovered. “It was my collection. I worked for these things.”
The Star Wars stuff hasn’t reappeared yet, but enough of the stolen merchandise was recovered that the boxes filled the back of their SUV and spilled into the front seat.
Taken from other units when the culprit cut through padlocks securing the rental units were antique guns, jewelry, children’s toys, music boxes, antiques and a variety of items with more sentimental value than monetary.
It appears the thieves crept to the back of Moore Storage, which sets back from outer Lisbon Street — technically, it’s on North Lisbon Road — by driving down a dead-end road and going through a small group of trees.
From there, the burglars went to work. They hacked through one padlock after another, hurling the ruined locks into the tall grass behind them. They moved from one storage unit to another, grabbing small, potentially valuable items while leaving bigger things, including winter tires and a snow blower, untouched.
There were security cameras at the front of the business at the time, police said, but none at the back. The man who operates Moore Self-Storage has since made improvements to his security system.
The investigation into the heist almost immediately went statewide, as police in Lewiston coordinated with those in cities and towns all the way to the New Hampshire border.
Police did not say where they conducted their search on Wednesday and they declined to name their suspect.
Jacqueline and Glenn Davis, like so many others targeted by thieves this summer, are waiting to find out more about the person who stole and misused their property.
“I hope they have to pay for restitution for everything they ruined,” Jacqueline said of the thief or thieves. “I’m sure all of the other victims are experiencing the same.”
In the meantime, there were boxes to move. Jacqueline said that, along with admiration for police and glee that some of her belongings had been recovered, she was also feeling of relief — since the day of the theft, she’s been blaming herself for not putting stronger locks on her rented unit. Now that the comic books and G.I. Joes are back, she feels a little bit better.
“It takes some of the guilt off me,” she said.