WATERVILLE — A homeless man living in the woods behind a city hospital has been arrested on charges that he stole $20,000 worth of items, including popular fantasy game cards and a laptop, from a local store.
Robert White, 27, was found Sunday with the stolen merchandise at his encampment behind MaineGeneral Medical Center’s Thayer Center for Health, police said.
The cards were reported missing around 9:20 a.m. following a burglary at Spell Bound, a store in The Concourse that sells supplies for role-playing games. An employee found the side door of the Concourse building had been broken into, apparently by a brick thrown through the glass, said Deputy Police Chief Charles Rumsey.
The burglar primarily took boxes of individually wrapped cards for the fantasy trading card game “Magic: The Gathering” from the store, although Rumsey said other stolen property included a laptop. Soon into the investigation, police received a tip that White may be the burglar, he said.
An employee at Spell Bound said Monday that staff had to clean up the broken glass left after the burglary, but the real damage to the operation was the loss of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise.
“The damage didn’t hurt the store, but him stealing everything out of our case did,” employee David Carver said Monday. “We were left with bare minimum stock.”
Carver said staff hope to rebuild their card inventory after the burglary before their charity tournament on March 22. He said the tournament and auction are to raise funds to donate to cancer treatment for artist Cyril Van Der Haegen, who creates art for the “Magic: The Gathering” cards. Prior to the event last year, Carver said the store had an uptick in the sale of card packs.
“We’re hoping we’ll get everything back before then,” he said.
Officer Timothy Hinton learned from police records that the night before, MaineGeneral Medical Center asked police to remove White and his girlfriend, who had been camping behind the building. Police asked the couple to pack up and leave the next morning.
Hinton went to the campsite to see if they were still there and “found some trash and debris outside of the tent that seemed to be packaging from these cards,” Rumsey said.
Hinton called Detective Alan Perkins to the campsite, and police arrested White around 11:45 a.m. Rumsey said police believe White acted alone and his girlfriend was not charged in connection with the burglary. White is scheduled to be in Kennebec County Superior Court in Augusta on May 13.
Police recovered most of the stolen property. Rumsey said most of the cards were not unwrapped. “Many are not damaged and probably able to be returned and resold,” Rumsey said.
White is charged with Class C burglary, Class B theft and misdemeanor criminal mischief. Rumsey said police are not sure what motivated White to steal the cards, but said White had been a prior shopper in the store.
“They are familiar with him in their business,” Rumsey said. “Either he was personally interested in the cards or was familiar with the layout, but I don’t know why he chose to burglarize them.”
Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252 firstname.lastname@example.org