Old Coins Help Catch Burglar

WATERVILLE – A man trying to cash in old coins at a bank Tuesday turned out to be a burglar with a long criminal history who had just broken into homes on Roosevelt and Barnet avenues, according to police.

Ian Morgan Colson, 24, a transient whose last known address was in Florida, was arrested Tuesday after a teller at Key Bank on Kennedy Memorial Drive became suspicious about his bags and small boxes of coins and called police at about 2 p.m.

“It was a large amount of coins and a lot of the coins were very old, dating back 150 years,” Deputy police Chief Joseph P. Massey said Wednesday. And Colson was trying to cash them at face value, he said. The bank personnel thought this was unusual.”

The man also did not have a vehicle in the bank parking lot, adding to their suspicions, he said. Sgt. Daniel Ames was in the area, went to the bank and questioned the man, who initially said a friend gave him the coins, Massey said.

“When Ames pressed who the friend was and where and when he got the coins, he said, ‘I really got them from my grandmother in Florida after she passed away recently,’” Massey said.

Ames knew something was amiss. He learned that Colson was staying at a nearby hotel on Kennedy Memorial Drive and another officer went there and spoke with a woman from Sidney who was in Colson’s room, Massey said. The officer noticed coin wrappers strewn around on the floor, he said.

The woman was vague about what she was doing there and about her relationship to Colson, but ultimately identified him as her boyfriend, he said. Police got a search warrant and found a wallet and documents in the room with addresses of homeowners on Roosevelt and Barnet avenues, he said. Roosevelt Avenue is off Upper Main Street; Barnet is off Cool Street, near Kennedy Memorial Drive.

Officers went to those houses and the homeowners were not there, but the officers noticed the doors were kicked in, Massey said.

The burglaries had taken place in broad daylight.

He said Colson ultimately admitted to burglarizing some homes and stealing some items, and that he chose the homes randomly.

He was arrested and charged with two counts of burglary and taken to Kennebec County Jail in Augusta, where bail was set at $10,000 cash.

Massey did not immediately know the value of the stolen coins.

Colson has an extensive criminal record in Florida, including convictions for armed robbery, felony burglary and dealing in stolen property, Massey said. He also was convicted in Florida of cocaine and marijuana possession, trespassing, and resisting an officer, he said.

“We have not charged the female with anything at this time, but the investigation continues and there’s a possibility of others being charged,” Massey said.

Massey and police Chief John E. Morris said police did quick work on the case.

“It’s always such a thrill to solve a burglary, arrest a burglar and recover stolen property even before the burglary is reported to us,” Morris said.

He said that at one point during the hotel room search, a cell phone rang and the woman asked the officer what the noise was and he said it was a cell phone and answered it but the caller hung up. It was then that the officer saw one of the homeowner’s names on the back of the phone.

Massey credited bank employees for helping to solve the case.

He said he has been training credit union and bank workers about robberies and what to look for and when to call police.

“Fortunately, this particular teller was sharp, realized something was suspicious, called us and we were able to get there at a moment’s notice,” he said.

Morris said police checked pawn slips and learned Colson has over the last two weeks pawned an air compressor, a ring with 10 diamond chips in it, electronic games and other items.

“We’re certainly interested to know if anybody is missing anything that matches that description,” he said. “Thank goodness some of these criminals aren’t too bright. Cashing those historical coins at face value at a bank is going to arouse suspicion and this character most likely would have continued to commit crimes in the city. We’re glad he’s in jail.”

Colson is scheduled to appear in Waterville District Court on the burglaries July 25. A jail spokesman said early Wednesday evening that he was still incarcerated there.

(via Morning Sentinel)

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