AUGUSTA — Henry Trefethen sifted through the rows of items that covered several tables and the floor. Finding a small padlock, Trefethen picked it up, looked it over for a minute, and then grabbed a set of keys from his pocket. Choosing one from the cluster, Trefethen slid the key into the lock and gave it a quick turn. The U-bolt snapped open.

The lock was one of numerous items stolen from Trefethen’s Fayette camp that he recovered Wednesday during a viewing organized by police for known victims of a monthlong series of burglaries in western Kennebec County. Investigators discovered the stolen items last month and so far have identified 57 victims, said Detective Nathan McNally, of the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office. He expects additional victims to be identified during the ongoing investigation.

Justin Ross, 36, was charged last month in connection with the burglaries, which police said took place in Wayne, Winthrop, Livermore Falls, Vienna and nearby communities. Ross, who police have said was the mastermind behind the burglaries, continues to be held at the Kennebec County jail. Investigators have said additional charges are expected and that they think the burglaries were fueled by a need for drug money.

All of the burglaries occurred between Sept. 1 and Oct. 2 and have been investigated by multiple agencies, including state and Winthrop police as well as the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office. Hundreds of items stolen, including boat motors, all-terrain vehicles and electronics, were recovered from a shedlike home at 186 Main St. in Wayne. Police had to rent a U-Haul truck and use a 16-foot trailer to collect all the stolen items.

“The amount of material we’ve recovered is off the charts,” McNally said.

Police called a number of victims to Wednesday’s viewing to try and recover their stolen goods. A similar event scheduled for today will be open to the public from noon to 6 p.m. Those who come to the public viewing must bring a list of items they have reported stolen previously.

On Wednesday, the victims carefully examined the collection of stolen goods, which filled two garage bays at the sheriff’s office, looking for their missing items. Charles Elvin, who owns a camp in Fayette, said he was most excited to recover an original Lord of the Rings movie trilogy that is now valued at more than $200.

“If you have to replace them today, you almost can’t do it,” he said.

Elvin pulled from his trunk a laminated placemat-sized map of Androscoggin Lake and the surrounding area. He wondered why the thieves bothered with it.

“There’s an awful lot of stuff,” Elvin said. “They stole the darnedest stuff.”

Indeed, the litany of pilfered items included much more than tools and electronics. There were numerous used scented candles, shoes of different sizes and even a toddler’s bouncy gymnasium set. One of the victims reported stolen Betty Boop models, police said.

“Honest to God, they stole two pink flamingos out of our bedroom,” Trefethen said. The flamingos were not among the recovered items.

Searching through the items was an arduous task. Trefethen and his wife spent 90 minutes before walking away with two plastic totes full of recovered material, much of which was small home decor items.

“We found three or four items we didn’t even know were stolen, but we recognized them on the table,” Trefethen said. He left without a battery charger and the framed four-leaf clover he had picked for his wife. Still, getting anything back was more than Trefethen had hoped for after the burglary.

“We were broken into eight or 10 years ago, and we never got a thing back,” Trefethen said.

When Trefethen is at his home in Somersworth, N.H., he worries about his camp. When he’s at camp he worries about his Somersworth home. Trefethen said he probably will install a security system in his camp, but he’s unsure how much that would ease his concerns about burglaries.

That sense of security is perhaps the most valuable thing the burglars took, and it is something the police cannot replace, McNally said.

“They come up to camp only to learn they were victimized,” he said.

McNally said it is a good feeling to at least be able to give back some of the stolen items.

“It’s one of the most rewarding parts of this job,” he said. “These are good people.”

Craig Crosby — 621-5642 [email protected]

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