MECHANIC FALLS – Early Saturday morning, police Officer Kevin Nichols drove upon a car on Pleasant Street with windows smashed out of it and random pieces of wood nearby.

He spoke to the vehicle owner and assumed the vandalism was isolated.

By Saturday afternoon, Nichols was working with five other police departments on an investigation into a vandalism spree that caused as much as $20,000 in damages across towns from Auburn to Norway.

In each incident, property was damaged by firewood police say had been stolen from Cumberland Farms in Mechanic Falls shortly after midnight. Damage so far has been reported in more than a half dozen towns.

Several people have been questioned, and as many as five may be charged.

Targeted during the early morning rampage were businesses in three towns – Auburn, Oxford and Norway – where windows were smashed out by hurled wood.

At least five cars had windows smashed out of them at dealerships in both Oxford and Androscoggin counties. Several business signs were smashed, as were mailboxes across both counties.

“It took a while for us to piece it together,” Nichols said.

In Oxford, a window was shattered at Mainely Action Sports. In Norway, a window at Lake Store was smashed by a piece of wood. Miles away, in Auburn, a pair of windows was smashed at Heathco’s at the top of Goff Hill.

At Heathco’s, an employee said neighbors told them they heard the sound of breaking glass at about 2 a.m. Saturday. When store workers arrived hours later, they found the firewood inside the store amid shards of glass.

Some time in between that incident and the one in Oxford, police say, the culprits stopped to have breakfast at Denny’s Restaurant.

Police said the group of suspects started out by stealing an estimated six bundles of firewood from Cumberland Farms at about 1:30 a.m. Saturday. The stolen wood became a source of a lot of damage, but it also provided a clue – police checked footage from a store surveillance camera and were able to spot some of the suspects.

“At that point, we had some faces but no names to go with them,” Nichols said.

More video footage was found at Day Motors in Mechanic Falls where windows were smashed out of a Lexus by a flung piece of wood.

Hours into the investigation, Nichols was able to identify at least one of the suspects. That teen was interviewed as were others late Saturday morning. Police now believe three males and two females were involved. Some have been identified; some have not.

The investigation is ongoing, and findings are being forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office. Damage believed to be connected to the spree was reported in other towns, including Otisfield, Minot, Poland and Greene. Anyone with information about the vandalism is asked to call Mechanic Falls Police at 345-9021 or their local police department.


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