Windham Community Services Officer Matthew Cyr, left, and Support Services Capt. James Boudreau answer residents’ questions at a neighborhood watch meeting last week. Courtesy photo

WINDHAM — Recent incidents have sparked social media discussion and a neighborhood watch meeting, but Police Chief Kevin Schofield said there has not been an increase in crime.

Residents posting on the Windham Maine Community Board Facebook page, which has 2,199 members, have recently brought to light events, primarily in the Varney Mill neighborhood, including break-ins, vandalism, a car being egged, mail being stolen and a woman looking into windows.

Schofield said the only increase in calls has been regarding the woman: “We’ve been dealing with an individual which has a mental health component to it and boundary issues. They’ve been physically going into people’s yards and looking into people’s windows in that area. There’s been an uptick in those types of calls in that neighborhood.”

Otherwise, Schofield said in an interview this week, “our calls have been pretty steady in numbers and consistent with the types of calls we consistently deal with.”

He said there are no ongoing investigations into these situations, although he added, “I’m sure there are things going on that individual officers may be working on that I may not be in tune with.”

Kimberly Morrill-Gallant lives on Varney Mill Road and said her home was broken into at approximately 11 p.m. on May 25.

She said vandals used a street sign pole to gouge the side of her house and block her front door. Her front window and bird bath were smashed, and her fence was broken.

When she heard the sound of glass shattering, she ran downstairs. The vandals left, and she called the police, who she said arrived in two minutes.

Since then, Morrill-Gallant said, “I really honestly haven’t slept since. I can’t relax. Every noise, I’m looking out the window. I don’t want to feel like this.”

She plans to move out of Windham and said she has since obtained weapons.

“I’m locked and loaded. I dare them to come back. They won’t be leaving in the same condition they came in. I was walking around the house with an AR-15,” she said.

She said she has been working with Police Detective Paul Cox. The Lakes Region Weekly could not reach Cox for comment.

There is also an ongoing investigation into the 15 small brush fires set in the Varney Mill area on June 17. Schofield said there was no damage to anyone or any property, and the Maine Forest Service is taking over the investigation.

“It’s obviously concerning that somebody can do this. We’re actively working to try to hopefully find out who may be behind this. We don’t believe they are at all accidental,” he said. 

Schofield said that although there has not been an increase in crimes, with social media, “there’s just more awareness and discussion” about them.

Aaron Pieper, the administrator of the Windham Maine Community Board Facebook page, agrees, saying the incidents now “seem to be more publicly seen.”

In response to the public’s concerns, Pieper partnered with Community Services Officer Matthew Cyr to hold a neighborhood watch meeting on June 21 at the police station.

Schofield said the meeting went well, adding, “What I was really happy to see is everybody seems to have that takeaway of community engagement, community involvement, looking out for one another. Those extra sets of eyes looking out for one another — it’s a tremendous asset for the community and the police department.”

Pieper encouraged people to meet their neighbors, invite them over and spend time with them: “The more you know your neighbors, you get used to their routines and can kind of point out what’s out of place.” 

Although Schofield said Windham is still a safe community, he advised residents to lock their cars and homes and said motion detector lights are a good idea.

“A lot of those basic crime prevention techniques go a long way,” he said. “And if anyone thinks something is out of place and thinks that the police department should be called, follow your instinct and do it. It’s not a bother. We’d rather get dispatch to something quickly and prevent something.” 

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