A break-in at Tony’s Foodland in Naples Oct. 31 highlights a string of burglaries Cumberland County Sheriff’s deputies are investigating in the Lakes Region.

Capt. Don Goulet of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office said there has been an increase in vehicle and home burglaries since mid-October. Though he guessed some were connected, he adding that there appeared to be different groups involved.

Police chiefs in Windham and Bridgton reported less distinct increases in burglaries.

The sheriff’s office received a call from a store employee around 4:30 a.m. Oct. 31. While opening the store, employees noticed the rear door had been forced open. The automated teller machines in the store were broken into, as well as the safe in the business office, and money was stolen. Some liquor was also stolen, according to Goulet.

Goulet said breaking into a safe is often tricky and requires special tools and expertise. A whole safe full of firearms was stolen in North Yarmouth recently as well.

Between Oct. 13-27, there were 30 vehicle or residential burglaries in the areas of Cumberland County that the sheriff’s office covers, Goulet said. That number is unusually high, he said, adding that the sheriff’s office isn’t the only law enforcement agency seeing an increase.

According to Windham Police Chief Richard Lewsen Jr., that town has seen an increase in daytime residential burglaries involving the theft of numerous items this fall. Though the number of burglaries only rose from 25 to 27 from fall 2007 to fall 2008, Lewsen said it feels like more.

Before, nighttime burglaries were more common and fewer items tended to be stolen in any one incident.

“I think it’s the economy,” Lewsen said. “I think it’s the drug users.”

Bridgton Police Chief David Lyons said he has seen an increase in residential burglaries within the last 9-10 months, but has seen these crimes diminish recently. He also reported an increase in the theft of gasoline and items from convenience stores.

Lyons, Lewsen and Goulet said electronics were popular items for burglars to steal. Goulet said the sheriff’s office is also investigating thefts of money, firearms, power tools, computers and televisions.

The increase in car burglaries was especially prevalent in Standish and Harrison, Goulet said. All of the cars broken into were unlocked and parked at owners’ residences.

Most of the buildings were broken into forcibly, Goulet said, adding that Standish, Naples and Raymond saw the greatest increase of break-ins.

He recommended that area residents lock the doors of their cars and homes, leave valuables out of sight and let neighbors or family know when they will be gone.

“Every community is seeing an increase in burglaries and thefts,” Goulet said, adding that he has seen an increase in the past when the economy has been tight. “People are looking for an easy way out.”

Tony’s Foodland was broken into late night Oct. 30 or early morning Oct. 31 and money and liquor were stolen. It was one of an increased number of burglaries committed across Cumberland County in the latter half of the month.

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