FARMINGTON — Joey Kinsey listed the home invasions and violent crimes that have struck his rural central Maine community in recent years.

The 64-year-old from Wilton ended his list with the fatal stabbing last month of an 81-year-old woman in the middle of the night in her Farmington apartment.

“There’s a lot of home invasions recently; that’s all around here, there’s too much of it going around,” he said.

Kinsey gave this list as his reason for attending a forum Monday in Farmington, where police officials concerned about growing fears among the community gave safety tips to 15 residents.

A retired business owner, Kinsey can remember moving to rural Maine more than 30 years ago, when violent crimes rarely touched his quiet, close-knit community.

“When I first came up here you could leave your doors unlocked,” he said, looking at his wife, who nodded in agreement.

In recent years, the couple has started worrying about whether they are taking enough steps to keep safe, according to Kinsey, whose wife declined to have her name used.

“We came to learn about being a little more aware,” he said.

But Kinsey warned that it’s important to not let fear run your life.

“What are people going to do, start answering the door with a gun in their hand?” he said.

The two speakers from Farmington Police Department emphasized a similar theme during the forum, organized by a community health agency troubled by some people’s reactions to recent home invasions.

“It’s the little things that make a difference between being a victim and not being a victim,” Detective Marc Bowering told the audience.

Along with Deputy Chief Shane Cote, he went over a variety of safety tips, on everything from securing homes and cars to avoiding Internet scams and identity theft.

Most crimes are crimes of opportunity that are tied to a criminal seeing the path of least resistance, Cote said.

For example, a criminal is more likely to burglarize an unlocked home or steal something valuable left in plain sight, Cote said.

Safety is about being aware of your surroundings at all times and being vigilant of potential opportunities for criminals, they both mentioned several times.

“It’s about being vigilant but not obsessive,” Cote said.

While Cote and Bowering talked about home safety, Linda Doiron, 57, of Wilton, asked them about keeping windows unlocked during hot summer nights.

While the detective and deputy chief emphasized keeping doors and windows locked, they said sometimes safety decisions should be a personal choice.

“I hate that the town is held hostage by something that is going on right now,” Bowering said.

Although there are crimes in Farmington, it’s still a safe community where people should just practice basic personal safety, Bowering explained to the crowd.

The detective several times during the over hour-long forum referenced the search for the suspect in the June 21 homicide, where Grace Burton was fatally stabbed at the Margaret Chase Smith Apartments at 195 Fairbanks Road.

Investigators believe Burton’s assailant cut a screen and entered through the unlocked window in the back of her first-floor apartment.

The idea for Monday’s forum at Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington came from members of the Healthy Community Coalition of Greater Franklin County.

Workers for the nonprofit community health agency wanted to help people dealing with fears in the wake of recent home invasions, according to Sherra Osgood, a program coordinator for the agency.

“It is on their minds still, tragically something like that had to happen for us to be a little more mindful of our safety,” she said, referring to the June 21 homicide.

“We sort of feel like we’re a little bit helpless in that we feel like we’ve taken the steps we can, but we can maybe do something else to stay safe,” Osgood said in an interview before the forum.

People are concerned about their safety after the series of home invasions in Wilton, Livermore Falls and Farmington, Cote said in an interview before the event.

A shotgun blast and a woman’s scream brought home invasions to abrupt ends over the past six months in Wilton.

And two males reportedly entered a home last month and pistol whipped a woman in nearby Livermore Falls.

Burton’s family and friends have made emotional pleas to the public for help finding her killer; who police believe is a slightly built male who cut his hands during the 1 a.m. home invasion

Cote has heard from scared residents who are feeling unsafe because of the recent invasions, and they’re changing how they live, he said.

People are no longer leaving cars unlocked, or windows open overnight to keep cool on hot nights, Cote said

“We want to teach people how to be safe, you think in a rural community you can leave your doors unlocked to your car and to your house, but that’s not the case,” he said.

David Robinson — 861-9287

[email protected]