Spate of home, business burglaries alarms Chester

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2015 Telegraph Publishing LLC

With seven burglaries in the past two weeks, Chester is feeling the sting of drug-related crime that has touched neighboring communities this year, according to Chester Police Chief Richard Cloud.

Three homes, three downtown businesses and a construction equipment facility in Chester been broken into and, because the time and methods used in the crimes differ, police say they may be unrelated.

The business burglaries – at Erskine’s Grain and Supplies, Chester Hardware and MacLaomainn’s Scottish Pub – occurred Monday and Tuesday nights, Nov. 16 and Nov. 17. The home break-ins occurred during daylight hours the week of Nov. 8.  And in the earliest burglary, $7,500 worth of construction equipment and tools was stolen in the night of Monday, Nov. 2 from a facility on Route 11.

In the three business break-ins, police say, burglars forced their way inside either through a window or door and were searching strictly for cash. “They went straight for the safe,” said Alan Brown, co-owner with his wife Deb of MacLaomainn’s. “They weren’t interested in anything else. Not a bottle of whiskey was touched.”

The thieves in two incidents opened two safes, in one case going so far as to toss a safe down a flight of stairs then beating it with tools. At the third location, nothing was taken.

Chester police have suspects in the home burglaries in which the thieves were “going after whatever they can get.” according to Cloud, who said some items have been recovered.

On Tuesday afternoon, the department posted a message on its Facebook page that Cloud said was related: “Anyone who has bought items from Michael or David Farnsworth recently is urged to contact Chester Police Officer Currie or Officer Woodell at 802-875-2233.” According to Cloud, the police are looking for the Farnsworths, and will be requesting an warrant for their arrests.

The daylight burglaries are similar to a theft that took place in Andover on Nov. 5. In that situation, tools were stolen from a job site while workers were there during the day.

While there was a rash of second-home burglaries in rural areas of Chester earlier this year, the recent crimes have shaken a sense of  security in the “village” area of town. “We’ve been here for seven and a half years,” said Deb Brown on Friday, “and we’ve never had a single problem. It’s very sad.”

“Hard to believe in sleepy Chester,” said Alan Brown.

Cloud told The Telegraph that police are taking action to counter the crimes, but that residents and business owners should take steps to protect themselves and look out for their neighbors. “I don’t understand why businesses aren’t putting in alarms,” said Cloud. “I don’t know if they don’t think it’s cost-effective, but I think more and more will have alarms in the future.”

Cynthia Prairie contributed to this article.

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