KEITH WHITCOMB JR.
BENNINGTON -- Police said a father searching for his stepson reported seeing a man taking items from Bennington Self Storage on Morse Road.
Police ended up arresting Christopher Robinson, 21, who pleaded not guilty Monday in Bennington Superior Court Criminal Division to 10 counts of burglary, two counts of attempted burglary, and one count of unlawful mischief. He was released on conditions that he abide by a 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew at his Shepard Street address.
According to an affidavit by Bennington Police Officer Nicholas Holden, on July 13 at 11:24 p.m. he was sent to Orchard Road where someone reported seeing a man taking items from the self storage units and last saw them on a bicycle near the entrance to Willowbrook Apartments.
Police said they spoke to the person who called, Michael Gates, 34, who said he was out searching for his 15-year-old stepson and heard he might be swimming behind the storage units. He said he saw the boy with Robinson, who had a backpack and two items in each hand, while the boy carried nothing.
Police had found Robinson by the time they talked to Gates and said Robinson admitted to taking items from the storage units and hiding them behind the Molly Stark Elementary School. Police said he told them he broke the locks with a large metal object normally used to hold fireplace equipment. He said the boy merely watched and took no part in the activity. A total of 48 items were recovered, which included paintball guns and accessories, as well as silver dollars and Canadian coins. The total value was estimated at $1,500.
Holden said 12 storage units had been damaged, with 10 having been entered. He said the units’ manager, Tina Mathers, estimated the damage at $7,000.
Police said the boy told them he was swimming behind the units when he heard a banging sound. He went to see what it was and saw Robinson, who he told should not be doing what he was doing. He said he watched Robinson continue, and followed behind the school, where he said he saw Robinson throw a glass jar through a window at the school. Police estimated damage to the school at $50.