Shaine R. Johnson Androscoggin County Jail

AUBURN – As a burglary suspect made his first appearance in court this week, the number of items he is accused of stealing from storage units continued to climb. 

Shain R. Johnson, 38, of 28 Pearl St., Lewiston, is accused of breaking into storage units in Auburn, Lewiston and Mechanic Falls and carrying away stolen loot in a U-Haul truck. Police said Johnson was stashing the goods in a storage unit rented by a friend. 

He was held at the Androscoggin County Jail after his arrest over the weekend but has since been released on $2,500 cash bail, according to a jail official.

The case against him began to unfold the day after Christmas when Auburn police received a call that someone had broken into a unit rented by Town Fair Tire at Bear’s Self Storage on Center Street. 

According to an employee at the automotive shop, approximately 88 alloy wheels with an estimated value of $9,000 were stolen from their unit. Video at the storage business plainly showed a U-Haul truck nearby at the time of the break-in, police said.

By that point, police in Lewiston were also investigating five separate storage break-ins while others had been reported in Mechanic Falls. 

Auburn Deputy Police Chief Tim Cougle said that on Dec. 28, while patrolling the area of Bear’s Self Storage, Officer Tyler Barnies saw a U-Haul truck with the reported stolen items in plain view in the cab. The officer, aware of the recent break-ins, pulled the truck over and questioned the occupants.

The burglary spree began to unravel soon after.

In a police affidavit written by Detective Nicholas Gagnon, investigators said they had received information that Johnson had been working with another man, breaking into storage units across the area mainly by cutting the locks. 

When police spotted the U-Haul pulling out of Bear’s Self-Storage Saturday night, they stopped the truck and found Johnson and another man in the cab. Although Johnson did not cooperate with the officers, police secured search warrants for the truck and other locations. By then, investigators were already learning details about what they say was Johnson’s spree of burglaries and thefts across the area.

One informant in the case told Detective Gagnon that Johnson had been committing the burglaries and storing the stolen goods in his girlfriend’s storage units at Bear’s Self-Storage, according to the affidavit. He also told police where they would find the blue dirt bike stolen from a Lewiston storage unit a few days earlier.  

And, according to the affidavit, he told police where Johnson had taken the stolen alloy rims – to a trailer in a park on outer Lisbon Street in Lewiston. 

When police went to the trailer, the man who lived there cooperated with investigators, police said, leading them to stacks of rims covered by a tarp and turning over a camera case with three cameras and accessories, two pairs of skis and a guitar in a case. 

The motorcycle stolen from the Lewiston unit was recovered from the U-Haul, along with goggles and a helmet, according to the affidavit. When police searched the storage units rented by Johnson’s girlfriend: “I found the unit 31 was completely full from front to back and to the ceiling with tools, power tools, a generator, pressure washer, tool boxes, fishing fear such as rods and reels, camping equipment, brand new ceiling fans still in the boxes, compound bows, window air conditioner units, small household appliance and several other items consistent with storage unit, garage or shed type burglaries,” Detective Gagnon wrote. 

The list of stolen items also includes heaters, saws, batteries, bolt cutters, grills, lamps, lighting, a vacuum cleaner, staple gun and pneumatic hose, according to a Lewiston police affidavit.

Johnson is charged with theft by receiving stolen property and theft by unauthorized taking. His next court appearance is scheduled for April 7. 

Police said the investigation continues and more charges and further arrests are likely.

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