Three robberies in less than a month shake local community

This past Thursday, Feb. 12th, the TD Bank on Waterville’s Main Street was robbed and the assailant is still currently at large. At around 5:45 p.m., the suspect entered the bank wearing a full face mask and handed a note to the teller which threatened violence if money was not exchanged. The person showed no possession of any weapon. Out of fear for their safety, the teller handed an undisclosed amount of money to the robber, who then quickly fled the bank on foot. Shortly after, ten police cruisers arrived on the scene in response to dispatch calls and began to conduct their investigation through the use of a canine tracking team. However, the suspect has yet to be located and the investigation is still ongoing.

This incident is the first bank robbery in about a year for Waterville, with the last occurring in late February of 2014. For that case, the assailant managed to obtain nearly $4,000 in cash from the Bangor Savings Bank on upper Main Street but was eventually caught and charged in June.

This statistic is only looking at robberies specifically of banks, and doesn’t take into account similar crimes of that genre in the entire city. Last week’s crime at TD Bank is only one part within the recent chain of robberies in the Waterville area. Within this past month alone, the city has seen three separate robberies, including that of TD Bank, all of which have yet to locate their respective suspects.

The first of this crime chain occurred on the morning of the last Sunday in January,  when a male resident was approached by the suspect on Gray Street in Waterville. The suspect then threatened him with a screwdriver, pressing it into the man’s abdomen, and ran off on foot after obtaining the victim’s wallet. Similarly, less than two weeks later on Feb. 6th, the manager of Elm Plaza’s Rent-A-Center was robbed outside at gunpoint after closing up for the night. The gunman then obtained the store’s bank deposit bag containing an undisclosed amount of cash and fled the scene on foot toward the corner of Main Street and Waterville Commons Drive.

These recent events are unsettling for many in the Waterville community. With three incidences of robbery occurring in an extremely short time period, two of which involved threatening weapons, it leaves many wondering if they are related. However, Deputy Chief Charles Rumsey of the Waterville Police Department was quick to dispel this concern. “We have not identified the suspects,” Rumsey said. “But we do not believe that there is any connection between the recent robberies in Waterville nor any connection between the persons involved”.

Along with their lack of correlation, the timing of these robberies does not necessarily imply a related rise in crime rate for the city overall. The fact of the matter is that Waterville has steadily held high crime rates for many years, with its crime index currently 120 percent higher than the Maine average and considered to be safer than only 14 percent of all cities in the U.S. (according to city-data.com).

However, these higher crime related statistics simply come with the territory of being highly populated area with resources drawing in outside visitors. “Waterville is what we call a service center city; people travel here from outlying communities to access the services available here,” Rumsey explained. “That type of demographic often means that we will have higher crime rates than other cities in the area.”

With this, Rumsey emphasizes that the seeming rise in crime rates is “all just coincidence” and residents should not be worried. Despite these recent occurrences of crime within Waterville, “we still strongly believe this is an overall safe community to live in,” Rumsey said, “and we want to make sure that residents feel safe as well.”

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