NORTH ANSON — When an employee of Premium Log Yards Inc. arrived at work Tuesday morning, he knew something wasn’t right: several logs lay askew in the snow and his crane had been moved.

He then noticed that a couple pieces of heavy equipment had been left idling with their doors open. Inside the large maintenance and storage building, however, was the main problem: $50,000 worth of specialty lumber and tools were gone.

Owner Clinton Bradbury, who also owns Premium Specialty Hardwoods and Maine Made Furniture Co. in Rumford, said he is offering a $5,000 reward for the return of the stolen curly maple lumber, which he uses to make furniture.

“They’re the lowest of life, people that will steal from a working man. We’re not big corporate America. We’re just a simple Maine business,” Bradbury said Thursday.

The Maine wood is used to build high-end chairs, table tops, desks, flooring and musical instruments and is known for its contrasting light-dark curves.

Bradbury said he is evaluating how to offset the loss and may have to lay off some employees to make ends meet.

“If I were a smaller business, something like this would probably put you out of business,” he said. “We need all the public to help us catch these people.”

He said he hopes someone saw the thieves driving in the area with the lumber in a truck or trailer late Monday or early Tuesday. The satellite log yard — one of Bradbury’s 12 log yards in Maine — is behind Williams Farm at 644 River Road, at the back of another log yard owned by NewPage Corp.

Detective Mathew Cunningham, with the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office, said the theft was first reported at 6:21 a.m. on Tuesday. He urged people in the area to always report thefts because cases are often connected.

“Many times they’ve committed crimes elsewhere of varying degrees,” he said.

Bradbury said it seems as if the thieves knew what they were doing. They apparently knocked out a small window in the building in order to climb through and open up the big bay door. It appears that they then started a crane with a screwdriver and used it to place the bundles of lumber in a truck or trailer.

They also stole chainsaws, weed wackers, hand tools, hydraulic oil, tires and motor oil, he said. They moved a piece of heavy equipment in the direction of the diesel oil drums — he surmised they wanted to steal the fuel — but it got stuck in the snow.

Bradbury said few people sell large quantities of that type of woods, so he hopes that someone will recognize it. The rough sawed lumber is labeled with “Prem” and a pack number.

He’s aiming to prevent another theft by installing security cameras. If anyone has information, he said, they should call him at 418-0800 or the sheriff’s office at 474-9591.

Erin Rhoda — 612-2368

[email protected]

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