WAYNE — A man is in jail after authorities converged on a home to recover tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of goods probably stolen in several counties over several months, including a snowmobile, an all-terrain vehicle and a half-dozen flat-screen TVs.
Chief Deputy Ryan Reardon of the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office said “a mountain of merchandise” was discovered in a shedlike home at 186 Main St. in Wayne. He said more stolen property has been found at another site in Livermore Falls.
Property recovered in Wayne includes the stolen snowmobile, ATV and TVs, plus electric hand tools such as saws and drills, video game systems and computers, he said.
“We’re recovering a significant amount of stolen goods, so much that we’re renting a U-Haul and have a 16-foot trailer out here,” he said.
Reardon said Justin Ross, 36, the alleged mastermind of the series of burglaries that netted the goods, was arrested Wednesday. In a news release, Sheriff Randall Liberty said Ross’ motive was opiate addiction.
At least one other person — the acquaintance of Ross who occupied the Wayne shed — will be charged, Reardon said. Liberty’s statement said more arrests are expected.
Liberty said in the release that the burglary ring was foiled after a sheriff’s deputy responded to a report of a burglary at a home at 31 Mountain Road in Vienna.
At 3 a.m. Wednesday, Liberty said, a neighbor reported seeing a “strange” sedan parked in the victim’s driveway and recorded the license plate number.
The car was registered to the resident of the Main Street home in Wayne, where the deputy later went and noticed many of the stolen items in plain sight in the vehicle. He was given consent to search a building containing more items and arrested Ross.
On Wednesday afternoon, Ross was in the Kennebec County jail on theft and burglary charges, said Capt. Marsha Alexander, head of the jail. Liberty said Ross is also on probation.
Alexander said Ross gave the jail an Ellsworth address, but Reardon said Ross has been staying in Wayne recently. The Kennebec Journal reported earlier that he also has lived in East Wilton and Otis and has a lengthy criminal history.
Ross made headlines in 2012 when he walked away from a work-release site in Leeds while serving a sentence for domestic-violence assault and living at the now-closed Central Maine Pre-Release Center in Hallowell.
Reardon said the burglaries took place over several months in “several counties.” The snowmobile was stolen last month in Mount Vernon, he said, and a series of similar burglaries has occurred there in recent weeks.
It will take weeks to process the goods to find out what’s stolen, what’s not and who the rightful owners are, Reardon said. The sheriff’s office, Maine State Police and local agencies are working on the case, he said.
“The initial investigation reveals this burglary ring was extensive, and we should be able to clear numerous burglaries in the area,” Liberty said in the statement. “This is another example of the (far-reaching) impact of opiates on our communities.”
Michael Shepherd — 370-7652