December 26, 2012

Burglars strike Waterville self-storage units, latest in a series of break-ins

Burglars break weak locks at 9 Waterville Self Storage units on Aviation way; nothing appeared stolen, police say

By Matt Hongoltz-Hetling
Staff Writer

WATERVILLE -- Police are investigating another burglary from a self-storage company after nine units on Aviation Way were broken into recently.

Although the locks were discovered broken Monday, nothing was taken from the nine units at Waterville Self Storage on Aviation Way, leading responding Officer Adam Sirois to speculate that the burglars were scared off, or just didn't find items they wanted to steal.

"They went around to the weaker locks, the off-brand ones or the ones with the thinner construction," Sirois said. He said it looked as though the thief used boltcutters to break the locks.

An estimated 10 percent of households in the country maintain some sort of storage units, according to the National Self Storage Association.

Sirois recommended that consumers buy thick locks and store nothing of great value in the units.

In Oakland, police investigators are still pursuing leads related to the November late-night burglary of 26 units at Thompson and Hachey Storage on Rice Rips Road.

"We're still working on it," said Oakland police Capt. Rick Stubbert.

Police logs show reported burglaries at storage businesses in Oakland, Sidney and Wayne this year.

Stubbert said that regional crime sprees are often cause for police departments to come together to work a case jointly.

"We communicate all the time," Stubbert said. "If the methods used all look the same, we all work together, trying to solve a common problem."

Stubbert said that the relationship between Oakland and neighboring Waterville is particularly good.

In 2010, a rash of self-storage unit burglaries brought the Maine State Police together with Augusta and Winthrop police to investigate burglaries in Augusta, Winthrop and elsewhere in the region.

In Fairfield, police Sgt. Matthew Bard said that he has seen periods during which theft from storage units have spiked and then gone back down, but that there have been only isolated incidents recently.

The number of self-storage businesses nationwide has grown over the past 25 years, from 6,601 in 1984 to 9,940 in 2011, according to the National Self Storage Association.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling -- 861-9287

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