SHAPLEIGH – The Maine State Police announced Sunday that it's cracked a major burglary ring in the Shapleigh area.
According to Sgt. Robert Nichols, from Troop A in Alfred, a search warrant was executed on Feb. 21 as the result of an investigation into at least a dozen burglaries that have occurred all across York County in recent weeks.
After gathering enough evidence from the search warrant , state police, assisted by the York Police Department, arrested Justin Burleigh, 25, at his home in the town of York on Friday, Feb. 24. He was charged with Class B burglary, which carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
Burleigh had been staying at a residence on Newfield Road in Shapleigh with several other people. Burleigh was there at the residence with several others when the search warrant was executed, Nichols said in a press release, but was not arrested at that time.
Troopers also arrested or charged several others on with crimes ranging from fugitive from justice to receiving stolen property. Further arrests and indictments are likely as the investigation progresses, Nichols added.
Seized from the Shapleigh residence, he said, was property from the burglaries, including flat screen television sets, gaming systems and other electronics. The residence appeared to be a “flop house” for transients, according to Nichols.
He said thousands of dollars’ worth of new clothing, sneakers, sunglasses and other items believed to have been shoplifted from the Kittery Outlet malls were also seized. Burleigh is not a suspect in those thefts and the investigation is continuing into that incident, according to Nichols.
Nichols said approximately 10 grams of heroin and paraphernalia related to drug trafficking were seized at the Shapleigh residence, as well.
Also arrested were: Heather Laroche, 23, of New Hampshire, as a fugitive from justice from that state where she's wanted on drug charges; Paul Kastberg, 25, of Alfred, on an outstanding warrant; and Michael Zaetz, 23, also on New Hampshire, on an outstanding warrant.
While there are still many unsolved burglaries in Shapleigh and neighboring towns, authorities are confident that, as the investigation continues, additional arrests will follow, Nichols said.
Burleigh and Laroche are at the York County Jail. Zaetz is in Goodall Hospital being treated for an unrelated medical condition and Kastberg is out on bail, Nichols said.
As the investigation continues, Nichols said, the Maine State Police will continue to work with other agencies to assist in the remaining unsolved burglary cases. Anybody with information regarding this, or any other casem is urged to call the state police at 657-3030.
Nichols said residents should rest easier knowing that this case has been resolved, but should also take precautions to protect themselves and their property, including:
• Recording serial numbers and keeping those numbers in a safe place.
• Keeping an eye on neighboring houses.
• Reporting any suspicious or unusual activity, such as vehicles parked in an unusual spot or driving around rural areas during the daytime.
• Never allow anybody you don’t know into your house. A common rouse for burglars is to knock on the door of a targeted house. If nobody answers, a burglar will try to enter. If somebody answers, the would-be robber will ask for directions or just say that he has the wrong house and leave.
• If a suspicious person does knock on your door, make note of their physical appearance, including what they're wearing, and get a vehicle description and license plate number, if possible. Also, call the police immediately and report the incident.