EAST MADISON — A former Waterville man with a long history of criminal convictions was arrested at his West Paris home Friday in connection a smash and grab home burglary in Canaan on May 21.

Burleigh Witham Jr., 49, is accused of breaking out a front door window of a Battleridge Road home and stealing pieces of jewelry, a jewelry box, firearm ammunition and coins, with a total approximate value of $800, according to Dale Lancaster, chief deputy at the Somerset County Sheriff’s Department. Lancaster said the break-in happened sometime during the day while the homeowners were away.

Police got an arrest warrant and a search warrant for Witham’s person, home and car based on evidence gathered at the scene of the burglary, including surveillance camera footage, Lancaster said. During the search, deputies recovered clothing associated with the burglary.

The charges are burglary, a class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and a misdemeanor theft charge because the value of the stolen items is less than $1,000. Witham was arrested by Detective Michael Ross of the Somerset County Sheriff’s Department with assistance from the Oxford County Sheriff’s Department.

The items that were reported stolen, including the jewelry box and jewelry, were recovered, Lancaster said. Witham reportedly confessed to his involvement in the burglary. He is on probation for prior burglary and theft convictions and is being held at the Somerset County Jail in East Madison on a probation hold. Witham’s bail was set Tuesday at $50,000 worth of property or $5,000 cash.

“I commend the Somerset sheriff’s department for their swift and thorough investigation,” District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said. “Mr. Witham’s criminal record suggests that he is addicted to burglary. In the past, he was given many chances to turn his life around. It didn’t work. Now, it is necessary to protect the community from his criminal activity for as long as possible.”

Witham’s criminal history dates back at least to early 1997 when he was convicted of forgery. Later that year, he was indicted by a Kennebec County grand jury on five counts of deceiving area businesses by obtaining credit and improperly using identification and a signature that was not his own. Witham received two cellphones, gold jewelry, a $5,000 Honda four-wheeler and a 1997 Dodge pickup truck valued at more than $28,000 by falsifying his identity in Waterville, Augusta and Gardiner, the indictment charged.

In 2007 he was indicted again by a grand jury, this time for his role in a burglary spree at more than a dozen homes and businesses from Fairfield to Manchester. Maloney said Witham was sentenced to eight years in prison on one count, with 10 years suspended on the other counts, meaning he still has a 10 year prison term “hanging over his head” from the 2007 charges, followed by three years probation once he is released.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367 | [email protected] | Twitter: @Doug_Harlow

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