Sheriff's office charges four in county crime spree
An extensive investigation into stolen mail and other items has culminated in a litany of charges against two individuals, as well as charges for two other men involved in numerous thefts in the area and beyond.
Randy Elwell, 19, and a juvenile, both of Swanville, have been charged with about 30 counts of mail theft, three counts of burglary and theft, criminal trespass, and theft of a motor vehicle. The charges stem from a multi-agency investigation into mail that was reported stolen throughout Knox and Waldo counties in December 2016.
Early Christmas morning, Belfast Police Department received multiple reports that occupants of a vehicle were pulling up to and searching mailboxes with a flashlight. The suspect vehicle was later discovered parked behind Faith Temple Church on Lincolnville Avenue, according to previously published reports.
While talking with the two individuals, later identified as Elwell and the Swanville juvenile, Dyer discovered a large amount of mail in the vehicle. Elwell was charged at the time with theft by unauthorized taking or transfer, operating a defective vehicle, attaching false plates and operating after suspension. The juvenile also was charged.
Since that time, Waldo County Sheriff's Office Cpl. Merl Reed conducted his own investigation, linking Elwell and the juvenile to several thefts around Waldo County and beyond. Reed said Elwell and the juvenile allegedly stole several chainsaws from Northport, Swanville and Waldo. They also broke into a vehicle in Swanville to steal a purse, Reed said.
Some of those chainsaws have since been recovered and returned to their owners. Reed said the pair traded the chainsaws, in exchange for other items, to people who were unaware the tools were stolen. Also, Reed noted many of the theft victims were unaware anything was taken from their property.
During his investigation, Reed also discovered three bags of mail on ice and in the water that were dumped over the bridge on West Main Street in Monroe. Monroe Fire Chief Kenneth Clements, attired in cold water gear, retrieved the bags, which contained mail from Waldo County and a neighboring county, according to previous reports.
In addition to the charges against Elwell and the juvenile, Reed charged two other men, 29-year-old Kevin Jewell of Searsport and 19-year-old Christopher Cherry of Swanville, in connection with several thefts.
Jewell was charged with two counts of burglary and two counts of theft, Reed said, and Cherry with one count of burglary and one count of theft. The two men are not believed to be involved with the mail or chainsaw thefts, Reed said.
Based on interviews conducted with witnesses and the four co-defendants, Reed connected Jewell and Cherry to two camp burglaries where a flat-screen television and liquor were taken, as well as a generator.
The television and generator have since been recovered.
The four were also tied to a vehicle stolen from Newburgh Dec. 9. The following day, Dec. 10, Deputy Dan Thompson received a report that the stolen vehicle was discovered abandoned in Brooks. Charges for that theft are pending from Penobscot County Sheriff's Office, the corporal said.
Reed said he was able to uncover the web of thefts after interviewing the four co-defendants and other sources.
While such a large-scale theft operation is not all that common, Reed said six or seven years ago he investigated numerous house thefts that eventually ended in charges against a group of people, including one person who was tracked all the way to Texas.
Reed encourages anyone who thinks they might be a theft victim to contact the sheriff's office at 338-2040.