GARDINER – A traffic stop apparently helped police solve a string of burglaries in Cape Elizabeth.
A police investigation has revealed that at least two teenagers, and possibly others, broke into cars, stealing one of them, as well as a number of credit cards, said Maine State Police Trooper Christopher Rogers.
“They burglarized 10 to 15 vehicles and one house,” Rogers said.
The charges stem from a traffic stop around 1 a.m. Saturday at the northbound Gardiner exit on Interstate 295. Rogers stopped a Toyota Prius after following it for a couple of miles as it bounced between lanes and went between 45 and 90 mph.
The driver, later identified as a 17-year-old Portland girl, was unable to produce a driver’s license or show proof of registration or insurance.
“She originally gave me a wrong name and wrong date of birth,” Rogers said. “Then she gave me a correct name and an incorrect date of birth. She gave me both the correct name and date of birth after I found a birth certificate.”
The girl has never had a driver’s license, Rogers said.
While Rogers was trying to identify the girl, he said, he found six credit cards belonging to three people.
“She said her friend gave them to her to hang onto,” Rogers said. “She couldn’t tell me who the car belonged to.”
The girl claimed the car was owned by a friend of a friend, Rogers said.
“She said she took it from Cape Elizabeth,” Rogers said. “They were out for a drive and were going to go back.”
Police tried unsuccessfully that night to contact the owners of the car and the credit cards.
Unable to immediately prove that the car and the cards were stolen, Rogers charged the girl only with driving without a license and failing to give the correct name and date of birth. Rogers said he then contacted the girl’s guardian in Portland, who came to pick up the girl.
“He’d been looking for her for three days,” Rogers said.
The girl’s passenger, Cheikh Fall, 18, of Cape Elizabeth, was not charged.
The car was impounded, and its owner called Cape Elizabeth police Saturday morning when she discovered it stolen.
At least two other people reported that the credit cards the girl was carrying had been stolen out of their vehicles, Rogers said.
Fall was interviewed by Cape Elizabeth police and admitted to the burglaries, Rogers said. The 17-year-old girl and Fall were subsequently charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and burglary.
All of the burglaries were committed in one Cape Elizabeth neighborhood, Rogers said.
A call to Cape Elizabeth police for details on additional charges was not returned late Monday.
Rogers said he is still unsure what caused the Portland girl to drive so erratically. She was not under the influence of any substances.
“A citizen called in a complaint,” Rogers said. “It may have been driver inexperience.”
Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Craig Crosby can be contacted at 621-5642 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org