Burglars broke into the Augusta Elks Lodge on Monday night and made off with more than $15,000, much of which was earmarked for a fundraiser for the foundation established by wounded veteran Travis Mills.

It’s at least the second time that theft has thwarted efforts to help Mills: a home under construction for him was burglarized last year.

The burglary Monday night came just hours after Mills, using prosthetic legs, participated in the fourth annual Miles for Mills 5K running and walking event on Memorial Day at Cony High School in Augusta with its proceeds benefiting the Travis Mills Foundation. Race official Ashley Harriman said the money generated by the race was safe and in no way connected to the Elks Lodge burglary.

Mills lives in Manchester with his wife and his daughter, and he started the nonprofit foundation to assist other wounded veterans. Mills, a quadruple amputee who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, was an Army staff sergeant when he was injured in 2012 by an improvised explosive device during his third tour in Afghanistan.

Augusta police Lt. Christopher Massey on Tuesday declined to specify how much money was taken from the Augusta Elks Lodge, citing the ongoing investigation, but he said the total exceeded $15,000 that belonged to the lodge and that the organization had raised for Mills.

Gary Cooper, chairman of the lodge’s board of directors, said Tuesday that he was still trying to reach the lodge’s insurance company. “We do have insurance, and hopefully it will cover the losses,” he said.


Burglars in April 2014 stole tools, including a new generator, from the site of a special “smart home” being built for the Mills family.

Tiffany Fitzpatrick, 26, of Augusta, last month was sentenced to serve nine months behind bars for the theft and a series of other burglaries and thefts. Fitzpatrick, who will serve three years’ probation after her release, must pay $4,000 in restitution. Charges against a second defendant, Clinton U. Bates, 36, of Augusta, still are pending.

Christine Toriello, executive director of the Travis Mills Foundation, said a portion of the stolen money had been set aside to run a fundraiser for the Mills Foundation later this summer.

“Our hope is that the community will rally around the Augusta Elks Lodge to continue to support them in their work to help our fellow veterans,” Toriello said.

Massey said someone broke into the lodge at 397 Civic Center Drive between Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning. The burglary was reported around 5:40 a.m. Tuesday by a person who went to clean at the building. Augusta firefighters also responded to the lodge for a fire alarm that was unrelated to the break-in.

Massey said the burglars exerted “a great deal of effort” and possibly used power tools to break into areas where money was being kept. The lodge is on a hill several hundred feet off Civic Center Drive.


“It looks like the suspects spent a considerable amount of time inside,” Massey said. “The amount of damage to the building and inside infrastructure is well over $5,000 at this point.”

Massey said an Elks Lodge in Lewiston was burglarized earlier this year and possibly another in the midcoast area. “We don’t know at this time if there’s any connection,” he said.

Massey said investigators were following up on evidence they’ve been able to collect and asked anyone who saw suspicious behavior Monday night at the lodge to call police at 626-2381.

Massey said the burglars worked effectively, if not strategically.

“Their methods were sloppy,” he said, “but they knew exactly what they were going to need in order to be successful.”

Cooper said this is probably the first time the lodge has been burglarized.


“It’s the first one I can remember,” he said. “I’ve been a member for 39 years.”

Craig Crosby — 621-5642


Twitter: @CraigCrosby4

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