WATERVILLE — An intruder tried to steal hundreds of dollars’ worth of donated Christmas presents from a local holiday festival, but police have apprehended a burglary suspect and the event will go on as planned.

Bobby Campbell, 51, a transient whom Waterville police Chief Joe Massey said police have “dealt with a number of times,” was arrested on felony charges of burglary and theft by unauthorized taking or transfer.

Massey said Campbell was initially cooperative with police but then asked for an attorney. Based on video footage from the Hathaway Creative Center and conversation with Campbell, police established probable cause to charge him. He was arrested and taken to the Kennebec County Jail, where he is still being held, as he was not able to post $500 bail. He will appear in court on Jan. 29.

Massey said police were notified around 8 a.m. Tuesday about the burglary and believe the burglary occurred sometime Sunday night.

Annette Marin, organizer of the Sukeforth Family Festival of Trees, said she received a phone call Tuesday morning from police informing her that a number of items had been found in back of the Hathaway building, where the event is held.

The items, including a kayak, were discovered by workers, who called the police because the items looked new. Marin said she went to the Hathaway building and immediately saw the kayak was missing from one of the vendor stations.


She called the other vendors down to the building to see what else might have been taken.

The Sukeforth Family Festival of Trees, which opened Friday last week and is now in its third year, is an event where festivalgoers buy chances in hopes of taking home the trees and gifts provided by vendors. The proceeds go to Hospice Volunteers of Waterville Area, Spectrum Generations’ Meals on Wheels and the Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers.

All the missing items were identified by the vendors, and that information was given to police, who recovered most of the items behind the Hathaway building. Some items, however, were still missing, including $1,000 worth of lottery tickets and a DVD player. The thief also apparently helped himself to a bottle of wine while stealing the items.

After reviewing surveillance camera footage, Marin said a man can be seen carrying the kayak out of the building, as well as moving inside the building with a backpack and what organizers believe to be the DVD player. She said police have informed her a suspect has been caught. She wasn’t sure if the thief hid the kayak and other items in the hope of coming back later to retrieve them.

“We won’t let one bad apple spoil our Christmas fun,” Marin said.

Massey said, “We’re very pleased we were able to catch him,” adding it’s always unfortunate to see such crimes during the holidays, especially when many of the items were for charity.


Police do not have a complete list of all the stolen items, Massey said, and they are still working to recover some remaining items.

Campbell has had multiple run-ins with police and has been arrested on several charges, such as obstructing government administration, and was been summoned earlier this year on charges such as public drinking and theft by unauthorized taking or transfer.

Marin said the doors to the building were locked, and the thief must have found a way to get the doors open. Going forward, she said festival organizers will take extra precautions to ensure the doors are secured. However, Massey said the doors were not locked at the time, and there was no forced entry.

For now, Marin said the festival will take care of the cost of the missing items for the vendors, but she said people have already started coming forward offering to help out.

The event will go on as scheduled and will open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253


Twitter: @colinoellis

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