A series of smash-and-grab vehicle burglaries in Damariscotta and Wiscasset on Thursday night, with reports of similar incidents along the Midcoast, has police warning local residents to remain vigilant.
The Damariscotta incidents occurred during a basketball game at Great Salt Bay Community School in Damariscotta between 6 and 7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 2.
The burglar or burglars broke the windows of two vehicles and entered a third vehicle that was unlocked, taking valuable items from all three, according to Damariscotta Police Chief Jason Warlick.
Damariscotta has not seen an incident like this in a few years, Warlick said.
GSB Principal Kim Schaff addressed the incident in a letter to parents. “This is an unfortunate reminder for all us to take safety precautions with our vehicles and belongings,” she said in the letter.
At the Wiscasset Community Center, four vehicles were burglarized between 6:45 and 7:30 p.m., according to Wiscasset Parks and Recreation Director Duane Goud and Police Chief Larry Hesseltine.
Windows were smashed in three of the vehicles, while the fourth was unlocked, according to Hesseltine.
Missing items include backpacks, cellphones, purses, wallets, and a passport, according to Goud and Hesseltine.
Basketball and cheerleading practices were going on at the time and the parking lot was full.
According to Hesseltine, there were similar incidents elsewhere in the Midcoast, including in Rockport. Law enforcement agencies from each jurisdiction are working together on the investigation.
Meanwhile, police want local residents to take precautions.
“Damariscotta Police Department would like to remind you to lock your vehicles, even if you are only going to be gone for ‘a minute,'” an alert on the Damariscotta Police Department’s Facebook page states.
The alert advises motorists to keep valuable items out of sight.
“If someone looks in your window and doesn’t see anything they can quickly grab, it is likely they will move along,” the alert states.
Police advise anyone who sees anything suspicious not to confront the suspicious person, but to take note of the person’s description, the description and license plate of their vehicle, and the vehicle’s direction of travel, then call 911.