A 23-year-old man who was charged in connection with a string of break-ins in the downtown Belfast area late last year was among the 36 indictments that were handed up when the grand jury rose Wednesday, Feb. 13.

Jason A. Beal, of Belfast, was indicted on six counts of burglary and six counts of theft by unauthorized taking in connection with the break-ins, which allegedly occurred during the overnight hours of Nov. 8, 9 and 10. Beal was also indicted on a theft charge that the grand jury indictment shows allegedly occurred Nov. 27 of last year and an unlawful trafficking in scheduled drugs charge that dates back to Aug. 16, 2012.

Last month the Belfast Police Department held a press conference to announce that officers there had identified Beal as the man who kept city residents on edge for several weeks, as police said some of the homes Beal allegedly entered were occupied at the time he broke in.

At the time of the Jan. 11 press conference, Belfast Police Chief Mike McFadden said a lengthy investigation that included DNA testing on items left behind at some of the scenes led police to Beal.

"He was entering houses and snooping around trying to collect any items of value," McFadden said. "No rooms were off-limits as far as this person was concerned, even bedrooms occupied by owners of the homes."

McFadden said Beal stole items such as jewelry from nightstands of victims who were sleeping "inches away." In other cases, McFadden said, Beal rifled through pants that hung on bedposts to steal wallets or other items of value. In one case, a woman was awakened at about 2 a.m. when an intruder entered her bedroom and shined a flashlight in her face.

The woman reportedly told the person to leave, but, McFadden said, because she did not have access to a phone in her bedroom, she barricaded the door and waited there until morning to call police.

McFadden said the investigation pointed to Beal after Belfast Detective Sgt. Bryan Cunningham, Maine State Police Detective Jason Andrews and Detective Jason Bosco of the Waldo County Sheriff's Office recovered several items that were left behind at some of the homes. At an unoccupied home on Ocean Street that was burglarized on the night of Nov. 8, McFadden said, Cunningham located a cigarette butt that was floating in a toilet bowl, and a screwdriver.

After more break-ins were reported at homes on Salmond, Condon and School streets the next night, McFadden said, detectives found a jacket that was abandoned outside the residence on School Street.

Detectives also located shoe prints at each of the homes, and McFadden said they all appeared to come from the same pair of Nike shoes.

In the hope of obtaining enough DNA to pinpoint a suspect, Cunningham sent the items he thought would provide the best sample to the Maine State Crime Lab in Augusta for analysis.

McFadden said both items were delivered to the crime lab Nov. 16 and by Dec. 21, police had a complete report on the analysis for both the cigarette butt and the screwdriver. The screwdriver, said McFadden, provided the most complete DNA profile, while results of the cigarette butt were not as complete, but matched data that came back for the screwdriver.

After police ran the DNA results through a nationwide database of DNA profiles known as CODIS, or Combined DNA Index System, McFadden said, the system returned a match for Beal.

"And ironically enough, Jason Beal happens to live in Belfast, Maine," said McFadden.

Beal was on probation at the time of the break-ins, McFadden said, and added that Beal had been incarcerated at Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset since Dec. 12. Cunningham simultaneously learned that Beal had pawned some of the jewelry he allegedly stole in the burglaries at local pawnshops.

After Beal was charged in connection with the burglaries, McFadden said he hoped the news would bring relief to the community.

"People were telling me they were sleeping with their guns in their nightstands," said McFadden.

McFadden said crimes like these tend to take something from victims that police can never retrieve for them.

"They're taking something away from the victims that they can never get back, and that's their security," said McFadden. "…Hopefully they believe we'll go out there and do the best we can."