Home burglaries on the rise in rural West Falmouth

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FALMOUTH — A series of home and vehicle burglaries in West Falmouth have police urging residents to lock their doors.

Falmouth Police Lt. John Kilbride said nearly 20 homes and a dozen vehicles have been burglarized over the last three months, which is a higher number than in past years.

The home burglaries have largely taken place in the areas of Brook, Mountain and Blackstrap roads. Kilbride said most of the burglaries have occurred in the daytime during the work week. He said the homes were susceptible because they have long driveways, are set back from the road and have more tree coverage.

“It seems to be the rural environment being victimized,” Kilbride said.

According to Kilbride, two suspects have tentatively been linked to up to half a dozen burglaries, and another group of three individuals has been linked to two more.

“The detectives are doing an outstanding job of extracting evidence and forensics,” Kilbride said.

He said the culprits are probably targeting homes that don’t have alarm systems. He said it is likely the thieves spend time observing the houses, looking for signs of activity and an alarm system, before knocking on doors.

He said what has surprised him during the investigation is how many residents leave their doors unlocked.

“Fortunately … we’ve only had one where the homeowner was home,” Kilbride said, adding that the would-be burglars fled without a confrontation once they discovered the owner was home. “That can be unsettling when they’re entering occupied homes.”

In June, a series of car break-ins had police suspecting spillover from Portland, where similar robberies were occurring. These, too, were in the West Falmouth area, along the Portland border.

Kilbride said cars have typically been targeted in the summer months, with homes being burglarized during the winter, although the car break-ins have kept up. He said businesses have not generally been targeted.

Kilbride said the break-ins are probably drug-related. Things typically stolen include loose cash and change, laptop computers and medication. He said smaller items that thieves can carry and get away with quickly tend to be stolen.

He said the thieves take things “they can turn into currency later.” In one case, heart medication was stolen.

Kilbride said there are likely various groups of individuals going around with the same purpose.

“It will probably get worse,” he said.

While some of the home burglaries were the result of forced entry, Kilbride said the car break-ins were not. Burglarizing a car with force is a felony, but gaining entry without force is just a misdemeanor, which Kilbride said thieves typically know.

“That’s not to say they wouldn’t take out a window… but we haven’t seen that,” he said.

Kilbride said residents and visitors should always remember to take their valuables out of vehicles and lock their cars and homes. He said while the occurrence is rare, culprits fleeing one scene have broken into other homes to hide from police.

“You never know who could end up on your front lawn,” Kilbride said.

The latest home break-ins are part of a trend that recently resulted in the arrest of two Westbrook residents, who were charged with a burglary on Canterbury Lane.

On Oct. 23, Mark Lindholm, 43, and Meggan Wainwright, 34, both of 473 Methodist Road, were arrested after police say they burglarized a state trooper’s home in Standish. Falmouth police, along with Westbrook and Maine State Police, conducted a search at their home, and the pair was later charged with the Canterbury Lane incident.

Kilbride said the investigation of Lindholm and Wainwright is ongoing, and they could be tied to other burglaries.

“That’s the tip of the iceberg for those two,” Kilbride said.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

Falmouth police say an increased number of home burglaries have occured recently in West Falmouth, particularly in the area of Blackstrap, Mountain and Brook roads.

Police said thieves have been targeting West Falmouth homes without alarm systems, so signs like this may be a deterrent.

Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.