RUMFORD — Police continued their investigations this week into smashed windshields and rear windows in four old cars and theft of $1,008 worth of microfilm from Rumford Public Library.
The two crimes are not believed to be related, Cpl. Douglas Maifeld said Tuesday afternoon.
Although police were notified last week about the incidents, Maifeld said they occurred sometime before the end of September.
On Sept. 29, Joe Gorham of Penobscot Street entered his storage building between Yvon's Power Wash at 575 Prospect Ave. and Mountain Pool Service at 485 Prospect Ave. Inside, Maifeld said he learned that someone had vandalized his old vehicles.
Maifeld, who is investigating the complaint, said the vandal or vandals entered the building through a side door and began destroying window glass. He said a front window in an old Porsche was cracked and the same was done to a rear window; other windshields and rear windows were smashed out, including a boat's windshield.
Maifeld roughly estimated the damage at $2,000 and didn't know if the vehicles, which had been in the building for several years, were insured.
Detective Sgt. James Bernard, who is investigating the library theft, wasn't available for comment Tuesday.
However, Claudia Reynolds, reference and technical services librarian, said Tuesday afternoon that the missing microfilm reels were discovered on Sept. 27 and police were contacted that day.
She said the thief or thieves took eight reels of microfilmed Rumford Falls Times newspapers spanning the years 1973 through 1980. Each reel, which covers a year, is valued at $126. She said they are microfilm and not microfiche.
“They were not borrowable, so they do not circulate,” Reynolds said. “It could be just someone being malicious. I don't know why they took the '70s, but we're just very unhappy about it and I'd really like to have them back.”
The microfilm viewing area was in a corner of the library, which was out of sight of library staff. The reels were stored in a drawer that was supposed to have been kept locked.
“The drawer was left unlocked because people come in and use the machine and don't know that they're supposed to lock it when done,” Reynolds said.
But on Sept. 27, a woman happened to check the drawer, saw that the lock didn't catch, and looked inside to find the reels missing.
Since the theft, the film-reading machine and drawer have been moved to a secure area. Reynolds said this was the first time that someone has stolen microfilm at the library.
“It's never been bothered with before, but we have had a lot of odd things happening lately,” she said.
“We've just had little incidents of damage, like the usual things, but we don't know if it's just kids or someone doing research. So I don't know if it's part of the 'Do it if you think you can get away with it,' thing or something more malicious.”
While the theft is difficult to take, Reynolds said it could have been much worse.
“We have some other microfilm that the (Rumford) Historical Society had made, but we had not put them out yet, so we're counting our blessings,” she said. “Still, we'd like to have those reels back.”
Anyone with information about the crimes is asked to contact Rumford police at 364-4551 or at www.rumfordpd.com/email.html.