WINSLOW — A Winslow man who’s already in jail on drug charges faces new allegations that stolen copper wiring worth about $16,000 was found recently in his Benton Avenue apartment, police said.

The man, Paul J. Garland, 26, has been served an arrest warrant on a felony charge of receiving stolen property. He’s being held at Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset on unrelated charges of violating conditions of release and illegally possessing prescription drugs and drug needles.

Police expect to file more charges against Garland and possibly other people in connection with the theft of copper wiring, which was taken from Central Maine Power Co. substations throughout Kennebec County.

“This is probably the largest amount of copper wire that we have been able to seize,” said Detective Gina Henderson of the Winslow Police Department, who investigated the case. “It’s statewide, it’s huge and it’s hurting CMP.”

Such thefts have become a growing problem for CMP amid higher copper prices and a stagnant economy, said John Carroll, a CMP spokesman. Generally, much of the company’s copper wiring has been cut from ground wires at substations, he said.

In response, the company has installed security systems at substations, worked with local police and neighbors to report suspicious activity, and contacted local scrap dealers where the copper wiring is sold, Carroll said.

“It’s important to us, because it can affect the safety of our workers, put them at risk, and it can put the public at risk,” Carroll said. “It can also affect the reliability of our system, and the people who are stealing are putting themselves at a high risk.”

The discovery of the stolen wire in Winslow came unexpectedly. Henderson and other police had been investigating the Aug. 11 robbery of Winslow Community Federal Credit Union at 12 Monument St. After obtaining information they thought would lead to a robbery suspect, police on Aug. 23 executed a search warrant at 632 Benton Ave.

“It turned into something else, which is when the stolen copper was found,” Henderson said. “We are still in the midst of following leads on the robbery.”

No one was home when more than a dozen police converged on the building that morning, searching for evidence. It was being rented by Garland and his girlfriend, who has not been charged.

Although authorities did not find evidence related to the robbery, they did seize more than 1,000 feet of copper wiring from the basement. With a value of about $15 per foot, Henderson said, the stolen wiring is worth about $16,000. A CMP lineman went to the scene to confirm it had been stolen from the company.

Police also found small amounts of cocaine and prescription pills, Henderson said.

“So there are also drug charges forthcoming, and more people are expected to be charged or arrested out of this,” she said.

Police later learned where Garland was. He had been arrested Aug. 26 on drug charges in the Southport area, along the Lincoln County coast, and was at Two Bridges. He’s being held in lieu of $2,500 cash bail, according to a jail official.

District Attorney Evert Fowle said the copper wiring was taken mainly from substations in northern Kennebec County. The wire had been stripped from sections of pipes, he said.

“It’s symptomatic of what we see happening with increasing frequency,” Fowle said. “In terms of sheer value, it’s not the most earth-shattering case we’ve seen; but we’re seeing copper theft all the time now.”

Garland’s criminal record stretches back several years, including convictions in 2006 on charges of assault, criminal mischief and refusing to submit to arrest in Waterville, according to published court records.

Also in 2006, according to records, he was convicted on a charge of eluding police. According to Morning Sentinel archives, Garland had led authorities on a 16-mile, high-speed chase that began in Waterville and ended on a lawn in Vassalboro with the man’s vehicle nearly landing in a swimming pool.

Scott Monroe — 861-9239

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