OXFORD — Police have issued an arrest warrant for an Augusta man they say burglarized three businesses in Kennebec County and is wanted for questioning in other break-ins in Androscoggin and Oxford counties.

Detective Michael Bickford of the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office is asking that anyone with information on the whereabouts of 39-year-old John Howard to call the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office at 207-623-3614, ext. 1202, or email [email protected]

Howard is wanted on charges of burglarizing three businesses along Route 202 in Manchester and Winthrop on Sept. 29, he said. The amount of cash taken from all three businesses was about $200, he said.

“He had a car, and his wife had a car,” Bickford said. “He drove from Augusta, down (Route) 202, into Manchester . . . Winthrop. The next time he would decide to do a burglary, he would choose a different route.”

Bickford’s investigation eventually led to Howard’s last known residence on Civic Drive in Augusta. At that time, Howard admitted to the three burglaries, Bickford said.

Police also recovered tools from an Auburn burglary and coins from two Oxford burglaries, according to Detective Maurice Drouin of the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Department.

“He was looking for money to buy drugs,” Bickford said.

He described Howard as a longtime heroin addict.

According to a report in the Kennebec Journal on Oct. 29, Howard pleaded guilty in April to theft by receiving stolen property for pawning stolen tools in exchange for heroin and cash.

At a sentencing hearing in late October, Howard’s attorney presented a memo to the court stating that, since his arrest, Howard was rehabilitated and working full time. The court suspended Howard’s five-year sentence, placed him on two years of probation and ordered him to pay $11,562 in restitution, according to the article.

It was agreed to allow Howard to meet with his probation officer the following day, but, Bickford said, he never showed up and has since disappeared.

Late on Nov. 1 or early on Nov. 2, a burglar broke through the front doors of The Lost Gull seafood restaurant and Smedberg’s Crystal Spring Farm, both on Route 26 in Oxford, and stole an undisclosed amount of cash and rolled coins from cash registers at those businesses, Lt. Michael Ward said. Police believed the two crimes were connected because of the circumstances, timing and the same tool was used to gain entry at both locations.

Ward said after the Sun Journal published an article on the burglaries, Detective Drouin contacted him about similar incidents in Androscoggin and Kennebec counties.

[email protected]

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