Rumford rare wood business stripped of copper wiring, tools

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MEXICO — Police are searching for thieves who stole an estimated $25,000 worth of copper wiring, tools and other items from Rare Woods USA LLC on Swift River Road.

Police were called to the former J.A. Thurston mill on Monday for a report of a burglary, Sgt. Roy Hodsdon said.

The business buys and sells rare woods from all over the world, owner Rory Wood of Rumford said Friday evening, and has an inventory of about 180 different types worth an estimated $2.5 million. Wood, formerly of Africa, established the enterprise three years ago.

He estimated his loss at $25,000 and said he’s not insured. However, he is continuing to operate the business and is buying materials and expects to have engineers arrive next week to begin rewiring the machines, he said.

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Wood said thieves entered the building through a window and stripped and stole all the copper and other wiring from machinery. They also hauled away drums of electrical wiring worth $1,000, steel-cutting tools, a new $1,000 Stihl chain saw, four machine movers, heavy chains, pneumatic air tools and wood-carving tools valued at $6,000, he said.

“The interesting thing was all the small power tools were there, and they left them,” probably because they had serial numbers that could be traced, he said.

“Mainly they seem to come in for copper wire, which they even took tiny little amounts on small machines,” he said.

The thieves moved six heavy electrical fans and motors to the front door as if to take them but did not, he said. “We had some photographic lights, and they moved them to the front door but hadn’t stolen them.”

“We think it was probably dope heads looking for the next fix,” Wood said, because of the ease of selling the stolen items quickly without being traced, although the chain saw had a serial number.

“It appears they went out through the front door,” he said. Police found truck-tire tracks and sneaker prints, Wood said.

 “We have no suspects at this time,” Hodsdon said. “If anyone has any information regarding this burglary, we urge them to contact the Mexico Police Department at 364-5686.”

“They might get a return of $1,000” total on everything, Wood said, but the damage amounts to $25,000.

The police response has been helpful, said the owner, who also had thieves rob his business when he lived in Africa.

“But from an African’s perspective, I’m very disappointed that people in Maine steal wire from machines.”

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