SKOWHEGAN — One of three downtown businesses burglarized this summer has closed its store, citing financial and emotional stress since an early July break-in and theft.

Josh Farrand and Naomi Poirier, who opened Rafting Randy’s Whitewater Supply in the town’s Renaissance Building on Water Street earlier this year, said sales dropped after the burglary. “People are pretty upset about it; they’re upset with the town — not the police themselves, but the lack of police force,” Farrand said. “They’re upset with cutting the night patrol; the walking beat. Downtown is wide open at night.”

Contacted Monday, Police Chief Michael Emmons said the town has not had a nighttime walking patrol for at least the four years since he took over in Skowhegan. He said a previous $60,000 overtime police budget also has been cut over the years.

Emmons said there has been “nothing significant” to develop in the downtown burglary cases.

Thieves cut through three doors with a reciprocating saw, cut a padlocked gate and a sheetrock wall to get inside the rafting and kayak supply store sometime during the weekend of July 9-10.

The break-in at Rafting Randy’s was discovered the following morning when Farrand noticed the store’s large flat-screen television was missing. Thieves had made off with an estimated $4,500 in electronic equipment, rafting gear, an underwater camera, DVDs, CDs, a Play Station console and games, check books and cash.

So far, nothing has been recovered, he said.

In recent weeks, the Blueberry Cupboard, which was sold last week to Priceless Northern Mattress and Furniture Galleries, also was broken into.

A reciprocating saw also was used on the Blueberry Cupboard front door on Water Street. About $1,200 in silver jewelry was stolen. Items taken from the hardware store were “enough to make it a felony,” an assistant manager said.

Farrand and Poirier, who are expecting their second child in February, said they have not given up on downtown Skowhegan.

“We’ll be back in April,” Poirier said. “Guides start training in April. We were going to close in September, anyway, when our season ends.”

Farrand said having to close the shop for a week after the burglary set them back and bills began piling up.

“We were already stressed because we buy everything out of pocket; we don’t have any credit lines, anything we have we own,” Farrand said. “And if anybody get burglarized, there’s some emotional stress. It was a combination of things.”

The couple said they will continue selling whitewater gear online and during visits to The Forks, so the business itself is not closing. They said they plan to return to downtown Skowhegan and possibly adding a bicycle shop to their line of year-round outdoor inventory.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

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