WATERVILLE — Investigators believe a recent spate of nighttime burglaries are related, and police in Waterville and Winslow are stepping up patrols in response.

Deputy Chief Charles Rumsey said break-ins at Bolley’s Famous Franks, College Quik Stop, T&B’s Outback Tavern and Dunkin’ Donuts might comprise a “string of burglaries” committed by the same people.

All four incidents share similar circumstances, Rumsey said. In every case, the burglars smashed through glass doors or windows and damaged cash registers for the cash locked inside.

“We’re talking about relatively minor amounts of theft,” Rumsey said. “The dollar loss from damage to property is much greater than the value of money that may have been stolen from those businesses.”

Police estimate the total cost of damages at the four businesses is about $3,000, while the money stolen is less than $1,000.

The first burglary was reported on the morning of April 10 at Dunkin’ Donuts on College Avenue. Video surveillance showed a window being smashed with a large rock. Next, a woman entered the store, removed a cash drawer and passed it to an accomplice through the broken window before escaping on foot toward Main Street. The burglary lasted about two minutes, Rumsey said.

Those same people, and perhaps others, are believed to be responsible for similar smash-and-grab operations on March 11 at T&B’s Outback Tavern on Jefferson Street, April 11 at College Quik Stop on West River Road and on April 24 at Bolley’s Famous Franks on College Avenue, Rumsey said.

Police aren’t sure whether the same burglars are responsible for an April 22 break-in at Winslow Seafood on Bay Street in Winslow, and investigators do not believe the same people are responsible for a Feb. 4 burglary at Burger King on Kennedy Memorial Drive.

Rumsey said no arrests have been made, but he is optimistic.

“We have some very active leads that Detective (Chris) Paradis is following up on as we speak,” he said.

In the meantime, police in Waterville and Winslow have increased nightly checks of area businesses. According to the Winslow police dispatch log, officers there performed security checks of 50 businesses Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

“I asked the guys to beef it up a little bit,” police Chief Jeff Fenlason said of his officers’ rounds. “There have been so many more break-ins and robberies, I wanted to make sure that we’re really concentrated on businesses and homes, trying to keep everyone safe.”

Fenlason said he’s not sure whether the break-in at Winslow Seafood is connected with the Waterville burglaries, but he said the increased patrols are needed.

“I just think with the economy, drugs and several other factors, that burglaries are going to become more prevalent,” he said.

Rumsey said Waterville police have increased the number of nightly building checks and they’re also performing more field interviews.

“As much as possible, our people are chatting with folks who are out and about at odd hours of the night to see if they’ve seen anything suspicious,” he said.

Ben McCanna — 861-9239

[email protected]

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