By MARIE HOWARD - DEXTER - Three men and a woman have been summoned to appear in Newport District Court today (Jan. 15) on charges of theft and possession of stolen property. This is in relation to the theft and destruction of several street signs in Dexter during mid-October, according to Cpl. Alan Grinnell of the Dexter Police Department.
Scheduled for court appearances today are Angela Sokoloski, 20, charged with possession of stolen property; Andrew Sargent, 19, charged with theft; Christopher Burke, 18, charged with theft; and John Cushing, 19, charged with theft. All are Dexter residents. The defendants are not required to enter pleas during Wednesday's court session.
Meanwhile, more arrests are anticipated. "The investigation is on-going and we intend to issue more summons in the near future," Grinnell stated. Some of the anticipated charges will involve juveniles. Dexter police are continuing their investigation which has yielded the recovery of seven of the 16 missing signs.
The first break in the case came on Oct. 30 when Jeremy Wintle, an employee at Rite-Aid in Dexter, reported seeing a juvenile throw a street sign in a Dumpster© located at the pharmacy. Also, some local high school students informed police about a missing school safety sign.
Despite this pertinent information "it was not an easy case," Grinnell said, explaining that many of the suspects were deceptive which required more intensive investigation. As an example he stated that one person brought signs in to the police station saying they were found in Ripley, which proved not to be the case.
"Three to four additional persons face pending charges" Grinnell said. The investigation so far has yielded two confessions. Some of the stolen street signs include those removed from Winter, Summer, High, Liberty and Water streets. Posts supporting the signs were generally left intact except for those on Gilbert, Gould and Brewster streets which were damaged.
Grinnell stressed the entire department was involved in the case. "It was - and is - a cooperative effort," he said. Grinnell and Dexter Police Officer Kevin Wintle recently located another missing street sign in a wooded area on Crockett Road.
During their investigation Dexter officers found eight signs from Piscataquis and Somerset counties and a Dover-Foxcroft street sign. Grinnell, who has served 14 years on the force, said he believes the theft and damages were done by two separate groups, operating independently. Repair and replacement costs are currently estimated at $824.
A reward has been offered for the arrest and conviction of those involved in the street sign damage and theft. However, the town has not specified an amount because one or more persons have been involved in helping police apprehend the suspects. The town has set aside $500 and an anonymous donor has pledged another $500 toward the reward fund.
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