WATERVILLE — Police continue to investigate a series of motor vehicle burglaries that plagued a city neighborhood this week.

They initially arrested a Winslow man, but later released him and said he’s no longer a suspect in burglaries of about 20 vehicles.

The burglaries happened late Sunday night and early Monday morning, mostly in the neighborhood around Pleasant Street, said Waterville Police Chief Joseph Massey.

On Monday police arrested a 25-year-old Winslow man and charged him with criminal mischief on six counts, theft on two counts and aggravated criminal mischief on three counts, but released him the next day from the Kennebec County jail.

“We are still investigating,” Massey said. “We are keeping all our options open and we are not sure at this point in time who is responsible for breaking into all of these cars. The damage is substantial to a lot of the vehicles and will probably cost thousands of dollars.”

About 20 vehicles were stolen from or damaged, some were unlocked and some broken into. The tires were punctured on many of them. Merchandise including six GPS units, CDs, DVDS, backpacks and personnel items and about $120 in small bills and cash were stolen from some of the vehicles, said Massey.

A Pleasant Street woman who awoke to the sound of her car tires being punctured at around 1:45 a.m. Monday reported seeing a young man with a baseball hat near her car, which initially led police to the Winslow man, who police found walking on nearby Elm Street that night, said Massey.

“At that time they felt he was a very strong suspect,” he said. “Based on the fact that he was in the area, what he told the officers, they felt they had probable cause to go ahead and charge him.”

However, as calls continued to come in, police got different witness descriptions of the burglar and were able to corroborate statements from the original suspec, which led them to believe he did not commit the burglaries, said Massey.

The district attorney’s office was contacted, he was released and the charges were dropped.

Most of the break-ins took place in the area around Pleasant Street, which connects Western Avenue and North Street, including on Park Street, Bartlett Street, Elm Street and Center Street. There were also a few off Upper Main Street, but police are not sure yet if they’re related. Most of the vehicles were unlocked, said Massey.

“We are advising the public to not leave valuables in your car, even if it is in your own driveway, and to always lock your doors,” he said. “Unfortunately there is always someone out there who will go into a car and take personal property.”

Watervill police ask anyone who may have information on suspicious activity Sunday night in the Pleasant Street to call 680-4700.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

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