Police say a Swanville man who was apparently trying to avoid paying for property he damaged — namely, the vehicle he was driving and an ice machine he allegedly hit with it — was charged with filing a false report in connection with the incident.

Devon Skilling, 18, of Swanville was summoned March 2 for filing a false public alarm or report. Belfast Police Chief Mike McFadden said the charge stemmed from an incident that took place at a local convenience store Feb. 26.

“His claim was that his car had been hit, or backed into, while it was parked in the Hannaford parking lot,” said McFadden.

But Detective Sgt. Bryan Cunningham said he thought Skillings’ hit-and-run complaint was suspicious when he started going over all of the calls that came into the police department over the weekend of Feb. 25-26.

A complaint from Perry’s Qwik Stop on Waldo Avenue caught Cunningham’s attention, as the complainant stated a young man in a green pickup truck with a cap on the back had just hit the ice machine outside the store and then took off, heading toward Waldo.

The very next complaint, said Cunningham, came in to police just after 6:15 p.m. on Feb. 26, less than 10 minutes after police received the complaint from the convenience store. That call came from Skillings, and he stated that he was calling from the Hannaford parking lot and that someone had struck his green Chevrolet 1500 pickup truck while he was inside the store. Skillings reported the incident as a hit-and-run, but Cunningham said he was skeptical.

So the detective said he called Perry’s Qwik Stop and talked to employees there about the ice machine incident, at which time he learned that the female passenger of the truck that was involved in the collision had filled out an employment application. After further investigation, Cunningham learned that the job applicant was a female acquaintence of Skillings.

“It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out,” said Cunningham of the case.

Through the use of video surveillance footage, Cunningham was reportedly able to identify Skillings as the driver of the truck that struck the ice machine, and was also able to determine that no hit-and-run accident took place at Hannaford involving Skillings’ truck.

McFadden called the case “another example of the value of video surveillance,” as 15 or 20 years ago, police may not have been able to prove that the hit-and-run complaint was false, due to the lack of cameras keeping electronic eyes on local businesses.