Thieves go on rampage at Mechanic Falls

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MECHANIC FALLS – They grabbed books off the library shelves and tossed them throughout the building. They lugged a 5-foot nutcracker statue and the librarian’s chair outside and tossed them onto the frozen river. They stole a computer and dozens of DVDs and effectively put the library out of business indefinitely.

Vandals who tore through the downtown library this week caused thousands of dollars in damages. The police chief himself is heading the investigation. Library officials mostly want to know why as they prepare for the long process of cleanup and repair.

“They completely trashed it,” said Nancy Petersons, head of the Mechanic Falls Public Library Board of Trustees. “It’s a mess.”

Police believe the persons responsible for the damage broke into the library on Tuesday, when it was closed. One computer was taken from a back room. The vandals tried to steal a second one but could not get it disconnected, Petersons said.

Dry dog bones for pet owners were thrown to the floor and crushed into the carpet. Newspapers, magazines and other materials were strewn across the buildings. Furniture was overturned.

Petersons said the approximately 100 DVDs in the library collection were stolen.

“We loan those out for free,” she said. “Why steal them? It makes no sense at all.”

By Thursday, library officials were only beginning to assess the damage and tally up exactly how much was stolen from the building. They posted signs in the windows and elsewhere alerting people that they would be closed for awhile. For how long is anybody’s guess.

Town officials were at work checking with their insurance company to see how much of the damage will be covered, Petersons said.

Police went through the building dusting for fingerprints. Investigators are hoping for tips in the case and Petersons believes those tips will be forthcoming. The library is in the center of town, after all, in an area where people are very familiar with one another.

“There is a lot of support in a small town for the local library,” Petersons said.

An emergency meeting of the library board of trustees is scheduled for 7 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 31, at the library. Petersons urged people to attend to help in planning for the library’s recovery. For more information on the meeting, contact Petersons at 345-3134.

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