SKOWHEGAN — Police used a tracking dog Thursday night to search back streets and woods around Whittemore & Sons on Waterville Road after burglars forced their way into a warehouse full of outdoor power equipment.

Skowhegan Police Chief Mike Emmons said a security company alerted authorities to the break-in just before 11 p.m. Officers found a door to the building open and foot prints in the snow leading into nearby woods.

“They did a track with the canine and went across country and across roads but didn’t yield any positive results,” Emmons said Friday. “They are working hard on it today.”

Detective Kelly Hooper is investigating the case. Emmons said police from Fairfield joined the search late Thursday and into the early morning hours of Friday, as did the Somerset County Sheriff’s Department and Maine State Police.

Emmons said it appears the burglars enter the building and nothing was stolen.

Business owner Rodney Whittemore, a state senator from Skowhegan, said the burglars tried to start a snowmobile parked in the lot outside the building. Failing that, they pried a latch off a side door of the storage building in an attempt to gain entry.

“They attempted to steal a snowmobile — they tried to start it, but flooded it and it wouldn’t start — left a puddle of gas underneath it,” Whittemore said. “They went to the door and broke into the building and upon doing so, the alarm went off and when the alarm goes off, they scatter. It’s a very loud siren and a warning and nobody can not hear it.”

Whittemore said there was no key in the snowmobile to start it, but people who are familiar with the machines know how to alter the wiring to get them started. He said there were two company trucks in the building and many pieces of power equipment, ATVs and crated inventory.

The break-in was the third burglary at the business in two years. In one of the break-ins three chain saws were stolen, even though the alarm was going off.

“If we go back 10 or 15 years it would be a big, big number,” he said. “Over the life of my business, it’s been tens of thousands of dollars of stolen merchandise.”

Whittemore said the company will add a camera surveillance system to its current alarm system soon.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

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