A panhandler with a murder conviction is back in custody after his arrest Monday in Damariscotta in connection with recent car thefts.

Scott W. Allard, 54, who often stays in the Augusta and Bangor areas, faces 10 Class C felony charges in connection with the Damariscotta investigation.

During the week before the arrest, the Damariscotta Police Department fielded several complaints about Allard panhandling downtown, according to Damariscotta police Chief Jason Warlick.

“We ran his information every time,” Warlick said. “He didn’t have any probation or bail conditions and wasn’t committing any crimes. … There is no law against panhandling.”

On Thursday, March 15, the department received a call about an abandoned vehicle parked erratically with the keys in the ignition at McCormick and Bouchard Eye Care LLC on Biscay Road.

An investigation revealed that the vehicle was missing from a local repair shop. The vehicle did not have any damage, and was returned to its owner. The department did not have any suspects for the theft.

Two days later, on Saturday, March 17, the department received a report of an abandoned vehicle with the keys in the ignition at Mr. Mike’s Market on Main Street.

An investigation revealed that the vehicle was missing from a different local repair shop. Warlick did not disclose the names of the businesses.

Again, there was no damage and no suspects. However, one of the businesses had surveillance footage of the theft.

Warlick recognized the person on the video as similar in appearance to Allard, the subject of the panhandling complaints.

On Monday, Warlick questioned Allard, who confessed to the two vehicle thefts and one more, plus six motor-vehicle burglaries, according to Warlick.

Allard told Warlick he entered the vehicles in an attempt to steal them. When a vehicle didn’t have keys in the ignition or was stuck in the snow, he would move on to another.

Allard allegedly told Warlick he took items from the vehicles, including cameras and GPS units as well as CDs, clothing, and lunchboxes.

In addition to vehicles at local repair shops, he admitted to burglaries of vehicles in the parking lot at Hannaford Supermarket.

Warlick recovered the stolen items.

“He had them all stored away in a backpack and he voluntarily took me to the location of the items and gave them back,” Warlick said.

Warlick then charged Allard with the 10 felonies: three for vehicle thefts, one for the theft of items from the vehicles, and six for the vehicle burglaries.

The charges in connection with the vehicle thefts are felonies because the value of each vehicle exceeds $1,000, while the other charges are felonies due to Allard’s criminal history, Warlick said.

Warlick arrested Allard and took him to Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset.

As of Tuesday, Allard was still in custody with bail set at $5,000 cash. He will appear in court at 8:30 a.m. May 17.

Allard could face significant prison time due to his record.

“He has a very lengthy criminal history dating back to the early ’80s,” Warlick said.

Allard’s rap sheet includes convictions for murder, robbery, and multiple instances of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, as well as burglaries, car thefts, and drug crimes, according to Warlick.

Warlick did not have details about Allard’s murder conviction, except that he was convicted in Waldo County in 1984.

Warlick said he doesn’t know why Allard came to Damariscotta.

“He’s a wanderer,” Warlick said. “I don’t really know. He liked it here, he said.”

Allard would disappear at night, and Warlick does not know where he stayed during his short time in Damariscotta. Allard told Warlick he often sleeps on park benches in Augusta and Bangor.

Warlick expressed concern about Allard’s reception in Damariscotta, saying some locals gave him $20 bills and rides and brought him into their homes without knowing his history.

“Having a heart is what makes Damariscotta so wonderful — people’s compassion, people’s desire to help,” Warlick said. “It’s an amazing community, but if you want to help someone who’s homeless, find out what they need.”

He encouraged residents to buy panhandlers a meal rather than give them money. He said Allard is the first panhandler he has encountered in his six-plus years in Damariscotta.

Warlick encouraged residents and business owners to lock the doors of their vehicles, homes, and businesses, as Allard took unlocked vehicles with keys in the ignition.

The alleged car thefts did not appear to indicate any desire to leave town. “He said he just wanted to joyride — just wanted to drive around,” Warlick said of Allard’s motive.

Allard didn’t have a preference for a particular type of vehicle. “Anything with gas in it and that would get through the snow” would do, Warlick said.

The police department recovered some items from Allard that have not been claimed.

Warlick asks anyone who had items taken from their vehicles in Damariscotta between March 13 and 18 to contact the department at 563-1909.

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