An employee of a Saco pawn shop was convicted this week of receiving stolen property for failing to properly document a transaction involving a fishing reel that had been stolen in a home burglary.
Saco police say the conviction sends a strong message that pawn shops are coming under greater scrutiny by area police departments because of the number of burglaries across the county.
Thomas P. Bennett, 57, of Old Orchard Beach was convicted Tuesday of misdemeanor theft following a one-day jury trial in York County Superior Court in Alfred. He was sentenced to 14 days in jail and ordered to pay a $500 fine.
Deputy Police Chief Jeffrey Holland said Bennett was working at Saco Pawn and Loan on Route 1 last April when he accepted a Penn Senator Big Game fishing reel but failed to document the transaction, which is required by state law.
The fishing reel, valued between $700 and $1,200, had been stolen the same day during the burglary of a Boom Road home, Holland said. Police recovered the reel after serving a search warrant at the business on May 10.
Holland said Bennett denied having the reel, even as police prepared to search the business.
“It took us serving a search warrant to recover the property.,” he said.
After an investigation of the burglary, Arthur J. McCurry, 28, of Biddeford was convicted for several burglaries, including the one on Boom Road.
Holland said there have been about three home burglaries a month this year in Saco, but there were a total of 120 last year. Many of the stolen items end up at pawn shops in Saco or elsewhere in Maine and New Hampshire, he said.
Pawn shops routinely provide police with descriptions of items brought in to be pawned or sold, and that information is shared among police departments. Holland said Saco police currently distribute information about local pawn shop items with about 18 detectives from other agencies.
Police Chief Bradley Paul said pawn shops are coming under greater scrutiny because of the number of burglaries “and the apparent ease with which stolen materials can be purchased.”
“I hope 14 days in jail sends the message that the police, the court and the District Attorney’s Office will work together to address this problem,” he said.
Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at: