RUMFORD — A Mexico couple was caught removing copper piping last week from the town-owned apartment building they were evicted from earlier this year, Town Manager John Madigan told selectmen last Thursday night.
Police Chief Stacy Carter said Wednesday afternoon via email that Michelle Kehrer, 39, and her husband, Jason Kehrer, 37, were arrested at 5:17 a.m. on Dec. 4 at 566 Prospect Ave. in Rumford on charges of burglary, theft and aggravated criminal mischief after they had entered a town-owned apartment building and removed the copper piping.
Jason Kehrer was additionally charged with violating conditions of release.
Michelle Kehrer was released on $1,000 cash bail, but her husband was taken to Oxford County Jail in Paris. Both are to be arraigned on Jan. 6 in Oxford County Superior Court in Paris.
On Thursday, Madigan told selectmen that there was a break-in on the night of Dec. 3 at 566 Prospect Ave. “The evicted tenants were cutting the copper pipes out and got caught,” he said.
On Oct. 2, selectmen approved having town attorney Jennifer Kreckel start the eviction process against first- and second-floor tenants in 566 Prospect Ave. The tenants were not identified.
At that meeting, Carter encouraged selectmen to start the eviction process as soon as possible. He said the building had required a lot of police attention and that tenants had continued to stay there, even after it was tax acquired.
Once the town acquired the building, the tenants were living there rent free, said Bob Chase, Rumford fire chief and member of the Town Property Ad Hoc Committee. The committee is tasked with vetting possible buyers of tax-acquired properties and making recommendations on whether to put properties out to bid or demolish them.
Chase said the building would need significant roofing work and had fire code violations. He recommended demolishing the building.