Two men have been charged in connection with a burglary at the Spectrum office in Portland in which thieves stole a safe containing more than $10,000 in cash and checks, police said.

The breach happened at the end of December and potentially compromised the checking account information of a few dozen Spectrum customers. The cable company is offering to pay for one year of identity protection services for the people involved, according to a Spectrum representative and a copy of the letter mailed to affected customers late last month.

Michael Luchini, 33, of Ellsworth and Matthew Smart, 39, of Southwest Harbor each face one count of burglary and theft, Portland police Lt. Robert Martin said.

There is no court date in Cumberland County set for the men, who are both being held at the Hancock County Jail on unrelated charges.

According to two search warrants filed in the case, police believe the men pried open several sets of doors and wheeled the safe out of the building before cutting a hole in the bottom to access the contents.

Inside was $6,706.28 in cash and $4,168.03 in checks made out to the cable company. Spectrum would not say precisely how many people’s checking information was compromised.

Police were called to the office at 118 Johnson Road when a security guard discovered the break-in on Dec. 31. Security footage showed the burglary took all of seven minutes, Portland police Detective Jeffrey J. Druan said.

The security footage showed the burglars carried a pair of bolt cutters and a pry bar, and hopped the counter where employees serve customers, according to the search warrants.

The men struggled to open the safe, so they used a dolly to wheel it out of the building and into nearby Brooklawn Cemetery.

When police found the safe, a jagged hole had been cut through the concrete lining. Investigators also discovered what looked like blood splattering the area, on a hammer and on receipts marked with “Time Warner” that apparently were contained in the safe.

Luchini used to be employed at the cable provider and was a suspect in an earlier case from a few years ago involving theft of money from the safe, Druan wrote. In that case, someone pried open the front doors, broke through the inner doors and opened the safe with a combination to steal the money inside.

Time Warner Cable and Spectrum are owned by the same parent company, Charter Communications.

Police looked into Luchini’s whereabouts, and found through local news accounts that he had been arrested in June in the Ellsworth area. Portland police contacted the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office and Ellsworth police, who told Portland police that Luchini was associated with a separate incident on Dec. 31, a day after the Spectrum burglary, in which Smart was arrested and his blue Volkwagen was towed and impounded.

In the backseat of the Volkswagen, police found a blue sweatshirt that resembled the sweatshirt worn by one of the burglary suspects. In the trunk, officers found a pair of bolt cutters with a speck of a reddish brown substance, and a pry bar that looked similar to the ones used in the Spectrum burglary.

Also inside Smart’s car, police found two prescription pill bottles bearing Luchini’s name that had a smear of a reddish brown substance.

After police learned of the car’s license plate number, they checked with the Maine Turnpike Authority, which administers the EZ Pass program, and found that Smart’s vehicle went through the New Gloucester tollbooth at 4:01 a.m. on Dec. 30. The driver of the vehicle even stopped to talk to the tollbooth operator because he could not afford to pay the southbound toll.

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

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