Portland police are investigating two more break-ins they say are similar to a dozen burglaries that have occurred at local businesses since July 28.

Break-ins were reported Tuesday morning at Bayside American Cafe on Portland Street and at the Still a Good Cause thrift shop on Forest Avenue, Lt. Robert Martin said. That brings the total to 14 businesses that have reported burglaries in the past three weeks.

Investigators say the burglaries have been reported in the same geographical area of the city, but some targeted businesses with unlocked doors, while others were at businesses with locked doors and security systems. Police have increased patrols of businesses but continue to find some businesses with unsecured doors or windows.

There doesn’t seem to be any pattern to the commercial businesses that were burglarized. Based on the location and the products being sold, the burglaries seem to have been committed on a random basis. The businesses range in use from an optometrist’s office, apparel designer and a shop specializing in juice smoothies to a hair salon, Thai restaurant and craft beer gastropub.

Police responded to an alarm call at Bayside American Cafe, formerly Bintliffs, at 3:18 a.m. Tuesday, Martin said. Officers found an open door and open window at the cafe. Martin said it’s possible someone reached through the window to unlock the door. The restaurant’s safe was damaged, but no cash was taken, Martin said.

Martin said police also are investigating a reported burglary at the Still a Good Cause thrift shop on Forest Avenue after a door was found pried open. Employees did not believe entry had been made into the building and no other details were available Tuesday afternoon, he said.


Joe Catoggio, who has owned Bayside American Cafe with his wife, Diane, since 2003, said his alarm company notified him at 3 a.m. that something set off a motion sensor inside the building. A security guard who responded to the alarm found the front door ajar and called police, he said. No one was in the restaurant when police arrived.

“They had come in and rifled around looking for cash,” Catoggio said. “They tried to chisel their way into our antique safe. That hurts the most.”

This hand-painted safe was damaged in a break-in at Bayside American Cafe early Tuesday morning. More than a dozen Portland businesses have been burglarized since July 28. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Catoggio said the safe is from 1847 and now has gouges on it, as does the painting on the front of the safe.

“It was my favorite piece in here,” he said of the painting.

Catoggio said his restaurant has been broken into before by people looking for liquor, but he hasn’t experienced anything like Tuesday’s burglary.

“These folks seem to be a little more sophisticated. The police called them clever,” he said. “It’s not your typical smash and grab.”


Cara Stadler’s Spring Street restaurant Lio was broken into Saturday and the safe was stolen, she said. She said the burglary was similar to ones at nearby restaurants, including LB Kitchen on Congress Street.

Joe Catoggio, owner of Bayside American Cafe, tells kitchen workers about damage done to a safe by a break-in at the restaurant early Tuesday. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

“Like Lee (Farrington) at LB Kitchen said, we’re trying to make ends meet and they’re stealing from us,” she said, adding she is insured and had to pay for new locks at the restaurant.

Burglaries also have been reported at Eyes on Rosemont on Middle Street; Maine Oyster Company on Portland Street; Maine Juice Company on Spring Street; Wallace James Clothing on High Street; Boda on Congress Street; Little Tap House on High Street; Leavitt & Sons Deli on Kennebec Street; Toni’s Touch on Forest Avenue; LB Kitchen on Congress Street; Lio Restaurant on Spring Street; Squeaky Clean Laundromat on Washington Avenue; and Others! cafe at Monument Square.

Martin said officers are continuing to do proactive patrols to check businesses to make sure they are secure, but officers continue to find businesses with open windows or unlocked doors. In some cases, business owners or employees have declined to respond when notified of alarm activation, only to later find the business had been broken into.

“Last night, they were out and found several businesses that were not secured. One of them was a business we’ve previously found not secured,” he said.

Martin said businesses should make sure doors and windows are locked and security systems are activated. He also suggested cash registers be left empty and open and that safes are secured to something if they are small enough to be picked up.

“The suspects have been going into businesses that are alarmed and not alarmed,” he said. “They’re taking the whole register when they go in. They’re making quick work by taking a safe if it’s a manageable weight.”

Portland police said they are actively pursuing investigative leads but have not made any arrests. Anyone with information they believe could help police solve the crimes can call 874-8575 or the anonymous tip line at 874-8584.

Martin also encourages business owners to contact police to make sure the department has updated contact information in case a business is found unsecured or a burglary is reported.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.