WATERVILLE — A suspect has been charged with trying to steal hundreds of dollars’ worth of donated Christmas presents from a local holiday festival, but many of the items, including a kayak, have been found and the event will go on as planned.

Bobby Campbell

Bobby Campbell, 51, a transient, was arrested on felony charges of burglary and theft by unauthorized taking or transfer. Waterville police Chief Joe Massey said police have dealt with him a number of times.

Massey said Campbell is being held at the Kennebec County Jail in lieu of $500 bail. He will appear in court on Jan. 29.

Massey said police were notified around 8 a.m. Tuesday about the burglary and believe it occurred sometime Sunday night.

Annette Marin, organizer of the Sukeforth Family Festival of Trees, said she received a call Tuesday morning from police informing her that a number of items were found by workers in back of the Hathaway building, where the event is held.

Marin said she went to the Hathaway building and immediately saw the kayak was missing from one of the vendor stations. She then called the other vendors to see what else had been taken.

The Sukeforth Family Festival of Trees, which opened Friday and is now in its third year, is an event where festivalgoers buy chances to win trees and gifts provided by vendors. The proceeds go to Hospice Volunteers of Waterville Area, Spectrum Generations’ Meals on Wheels and the Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers.

Most of the missing items were found behind the Hathaway building. Some were still missing, including $1,000 worth of lottery tickets and a DVD player. The thief also apparently helped himself to a bottle of wine while stealing the items.

Waterville police Sgt. Alden Weigelt looks over some of the items recovered from outside the Hathaway Creative Center on Wednesday that were taken from various vendors at the Sukeforth Family Festival of Trees some time Sunday night, including a kayak, tools, fishing equipment and a chainsaw. Bobby Campbell, a transient, has been charged with burglary and theft. Staff photo by David Leaming

Surveillance footage showed a man carrying the kayak out of the building, as well as moving inside the building with a backpack and what appeared to be the DVD player. She wasn’t sure if the thief hid the kayak and other items in the hope of coming back later to retrieve them.

“We won’t let one bad apple spoil our Christmas fun,” Marin said.

Massey said, “We’re very pleased we were able to catch him,” adding that it’s always unfortunate to see such crimes during the holidays, especially when many of the items were for charity.

Police do not have a complete list of the stolen items, Massey said, and they are still working to recover some of them.

Campbell has been arrested on several charges, such as obstructing government administration, and was summonsed earlier this year on charges including public drinking and theft by unauthorized taking or transfer.

Marin said the doors to the building were locked, and the thief must have found a way to get them open. Going forward, she said, festival organizers will take extra precautions to ensure the doors are secured. However, Massey said the doors were not locked at the time, and there was no forced entry.

For now, Marin said, the festival will take care of the cost of the missing items for the vendors, but she said people have already started coming forward offering to help out.

The event will continue as scheduled and will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.