Police investigate Craigslist lead in Charlotte construction theft

JULIA BAILEY-WELLS
Community News Service

A Craigslist ad is still the primary lead in an investigation into the theft of $10,000 worth of tools from a Charlotte construction site.

The ad dated June 20 is the best lead so far in the June 18 theft that interrupted construction of Charlotte Crossings, a commercial building project along U.S. Route 7 just south of Ferry Road on the site of the former Vermont Wildflower Farm. Contractor Mike Dunbar and his wife Debbie Kassabian, who live nearby in Charlotte, purchased the 5-acre property with plans for a project designed for office, retail and restaurant uses.

Dunbar owns Middlebury Fence Company and RenoVaTe Construction; Kassabian works for a pharmaceutical company. Dunbar described the project as 75-percent built with a goal of opening by September.

The theft happened sometime on the night of June 18. When workers arrived just before 7 a.m. on June 19, they discovered that the locked trailer containing much of their tools and equipment had been broken into and many items were missing, according to police.

By 9:45 that morning, Dunbar posted on Facebook offering $3,000 for “any information that might lead to a conviction.”

When someone replied with an image of the Craigslist ad, Dunbar sent it to Vermont state troopers. Cpl. Andrew Leise is investigating the case. He said Monday that he spent two days off-duty pursuing the Craigslist ad and who may have posted it.

“Once [the ad] came in, I pursued it,” he said. “We’re still pursuing a strong lead pertaining to the Craigslist ad.”

Titled “TOOLS I HAVE FOR SALE” with Milton as its location, it said in all capital letters:  “I have several tools for sale I bought from Middlebury Fencing in the past few days, I won’t post any pictures but I will show in person to serious cash buyers only.”

The state police news release about the crime estimated the value of the items taken to be $10,410. The suspects would face charges of grand larceny, trespassing and unlawful mischief, police said.

Missing from the trailer were 40 different tools and pieces of equipment including saws, hammers, drills and bits, routers, nail guns, sanders, a Milwaukee chainsaw,  a propane torch kit and a Honda 1000 watt generator.

Leise surmised that the suspects may have used “a large vehicle or SUV, or a smaller vehicle used to take multiple trips,” given the volume of equipment stolen.

Dunbar noted that he has installed a surveillance camera since the episode.

Liese said he is still pursuing the Craigslist lead and communicating with the Attorney General’s office as the investigation proceeds.

A full list of the items missing from the job trailer is online in the police press release about the incident. Anyone with information is asked to contact Leise at the Williston state police barracks at 878-7111.

Community News Service is a collaboration with the University of Vermont’s Reporting and Documentary Storytelling program.

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