– DENNIS HOEY

Staff Writer

PORTLAND – The man who police say stole 78 computers from the elementary school that Portland is building on Ocean Avenue turned himself in to authorities Tuesday night.

Brian J. Berry, 31, of Portland arrived at the police station with his mother around 8:15 p.m. and surrendered, said Lt. Robert Ridge. Earlier in the day, police issued an arrest warrant charging Berry with burglary and theft.

Lt. Gary Rogers said Berry is alleged to have taken 33 Apple iMacs and 45 Apple MacBooks, worth a total of $60,000, from the school building. The thefts were discovered Thursday.

Rogers said that as police searched Berry’s home at 38 Irving St. on Friday night, Berry showed up and then fled. Berry spoke with detectives by phone later that evening and was aware police were looking for him.

Since the theft was discovered, detectives have recovered 61 of the computers that were stolen. Seventeen remain missing.

The computers were stored in a locked classroom at the Ocean Avenue Elementary School, which is scheduled to open in the spring. The logistics of the theft initially puzzled detectives because it would have taken thieves a long time to remove so many computers.

But as the investigation continued, Rogers said, clues led police to Berry, whose home is near the school.

“We determined the computers were stolen over a period of time, not in one night,” Rogers said. “The thefts just went unnoticed.”

Police are trying to find the missing computers. Anyone who bought a computer from Berry is urged to contact them. Anyone who keeps any of the stolen computers could face a felony charge of theft by receiving.

Superintendent James Morse told The Portland Press Herald last week, “Stealing these computers is like stealing candy from a baby. It’s pretty despicable.”

Rogers said there could be more arrests as the investigation continues.

There are several ways to contact police, including by phone at 874-8596 or by leaving an anonymous tip on the department’s crime tip line at 874-8584.

Residents also can text the keyword GOTCHA and their message to 274637 (CRIMES) or go to the website at www.portland-police.com and click on “Submit an Anonymous Crime Tip.”

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]