AUGUSTA — Two men have been charged in connection with this week’s burglary of a contractor’s trailer that left a local builder scrambling to replace tools worth thousands of dollars.

Clinton Bates, 35, of Waterville, is charged with theft by receiving stolen property and unlawful possession of marijuana, Augusta Police Detective Jason Cote said Friday. Bates, who was arrested on a warrant Thursday during a search conducted in connection with the trailer burglary, was charged Friday at the Kennebec County jail.

Bates remained jailed Friday afternoon in lieu of $2,000 cash bail or $20,000 property.

James Richards, 29, of Augusta, also faces charges related to the trailer burglary. He was issued a summons Friday charging him with theft by deception, Cote said.

The theft charges against Bates and Richards are both class C, which are felonies.

Neither Bates nor Richards is charged with breaking into the trailer, Cote said. The charges against Richards stem from his claim at an area pawn shop that he owned the tools, which he was attempting to sell for cash. The charge against Bates came from him asking Richards to pawn the stolen tools, Cote said.

Additional charges against Bates, Richards and others are possible, Cote said.

The tools were stolen from a trailer owned by Augusta-based Atlantic Building Contractors, which was parked at a job site on West River Road. Almost all the tools have been recovered, Cote said.

“Good guys win. Bad guys lose,” said Joseph Nestor, owner of the contracting firm. “It’s a great day.”

More than $10,000 worth of tools was taken during the burglary, which occurred sometime between 6:15 p.m. Monday and 8 a.m. Tuesday. The burglars cut and pried a locking hasp underneath a padlock to break into the 16-foot covered trailer. The stolen equipment included air guns, a table saw and cordless tools.

Cote said Nestor bought the tools new for $14,000.

The investigation led to Richards after he reportedly turned in some of the stolen equipment at an area pawn shop, which police wouldn’t identify. The shop owner, suspicious of the transaction, contacted police, Cote said.

“They had purchased property they believed I should come look at,” Cote said. “One of the tools had the initials ABC.”

Once police confirmed that the property belonged to Nestor, they searched Richards’ Augusta home, Cote said. Most of the missing property was found during that search.

Bates, who was at the home at the time of the search, was arrested on a warrant.

After about $12,000 worth of Nestor’s tools were stolen from a trailer in Wayne in 2003, he keeps an inventory of his tools that includes photographs and serial numbers.

“The documentation of serial numbers and photographs assisted our investigation greatly,” Cote said.

Nestor said he is grateful to have his tools back, particularly an apron that held hammers and other tools he has used for years.

“Even though we at ABC do not know all the details on how this was achieved, it definitely appears to be by diligent, thorough and detailed work of the Augusta Police Department,” Nestor said. “It’s a great day for us at ABC.”

Craig Crosby — 621-5642
[email protected]

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