LEWISTON — A tip from a resident followed by a police foot chase Tuesday led to the arrest of a pair of teenagers suspected of breaking into a number of homes near Bates College.

Boys, 14 and 16, were being charged with three counts of burglary after they were questioned by police. Investigators say more charges are likely. All summer, the Bates College neighborhood has been vexed by break-ins, with teenagers wandering the area with backpacks and searching for easily entered homes.

Several suspects were arrested during the summer.

After a brief lull, police said, the burglaries began again in the areas around College, Wood and Nichols streets.

“These juveniles roam through the neighborhood,” Lewiston police Lt. Michael McGonagle said. “They look like students, so they fit right in.”

At about 1 p.m. Tuesday, a man who lives on Nichols Street surprised three youths breaking into his home. The suspects ran off, and the homeowner quickly called police, providing a description of the teens, as well as their direction of travel.


Several blocks away, police spotted the teens, who ran away at the sight of the officers. Two suspects were captured while the third got away. He was still being sought later Tuesday.

McGonagle said police are familiar with the pair caught on Tuesday from previous scrapes with the law.

Whether the arrests bring to a halt the number of break-ins around Bates College  — well over a dozen have been reported since the start of summer — remains to be seen.

McGonagle said thieves have been looking for homes with unlocked doors or windows left open. They have been grabbing items such as computers and cash.

“Anything that will fit in their backpacks,” McGonagle said.

As always, police advise homeowners to take the usual precautions: keep doors and windows locked. If an air conditioner is still in use, buy a gadget at any hardware store that will help secure the window.

Keep hedges trimmed and outside lights on, police suggest. Their biggest wish is that more residents would call to report suspicious behavior, like the man who pointed police to the culprits on Tuesday.

“The residents are really the biggest help to us,” McGonagle said. “They know who belongs in their neighborhoods and who does not.”

Police have also added extra patrols in the neighborhoods around the college, including officers on bicycles and others in unmarked cars.

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