Maine family scrambled after wood chipper used for business stolen

MONTVILLE, Maine — After Eric Dayan and his family returned home from a camping trip last weekend, the Montville arborist discovered his 2,000-pound wood chipper had been stolen.

The theft of the $20,000 tool, which he bought new three years ago and which is an integral part of his business, has hit Dayan hard. He had left the bright yellow wood chipper parked on his property on dead end Twitchell Road.

“I never thought this would happen in a million years,” he said. “I was in shock for a while. I expected it to be behind a bush or someone had borrowed it.

And in the days that followed, Dayan, 40, also learned the bad news that while he thought it was fully insured, it wasn’t. This means that not only does he no longer have the wood chipper that turned what was once all-day tree cleaning jobs into an hour-long chore, but he still has to pay a monthly loan of $354. on the stolen machine until it is reimbursed. .

“It’s harder to do all the work without her,” said Dayan, who has four children, including an 11-month-old baby. “They took the food out of my kids’ mouths…I spent 40 years believing people. I’m sad to burst this bubble.

The missing wood chipper is part of a recent spate of tool thefts in Maine that are making it much harder for victims to earn a living. Nor are they small items that could easily be slipped into a pocket or bag, such as a wallet or jewelry. Instead, it’s large, heavy equipment that probably requires at least some effort – not to mention transportation – to steal.

Other thefts reported this week include a custom-made meat smoker stolen from a Bangor business and a new commercial-grade dump trailer that cost a contractor $11,000 when he bought it last month .

“It’s taking my livelihood,” said Matthew Jones of Portland-based Forest Street Carpentry, whose dump trailer missing from a building site on outer Union Street in Bangor. “It makes it hard for me to live and pay my rent when someone takes my tools.”

Lt. James Ellis of the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office said his department is still investigating the theft of a red trailer stolen in December behind the Freshie’s store in Orrington. This is among several trailer theft cases in Penobscot County that remain unsolved. A number of others have performed in Hermon.

“Whether they’re all connected or not, I can’t say,” Ellis said. “A lot of the thefts we see are related to getting money for medicine. The things that are stolen, we don’t know why people do it, but they have a reason.

Whatever the reason, tool theft can put victims of crime in a precarious economic situation.

Jones, who lives in Portland but is originally from the Bangor area, worked for a long time to save money to buy the dump trailer – a crucial tool for jobs where there is a lot of demolition debris. .

He reported the theft to the police and hopes it will eventually resurface. But that wasn’t assured, so for now he’ll either have to rent a trailer, figure out how to buy a new one, or just use vans to haul smaller loads of debris away from the site.

“It’s tough, the amount of work and the time it takes me to have $11,000 in my bank account,” he said. “Flying it is really, really frustrating. It’s absolutely more difficult without it.

For Bethany Gregory, a chef working to turn the shuttered Six Mile Falls store on Broadway in Bangor into a cafe, coffee bar and local food market, the theft of his meat smoker came as a shock. She moved from Cape Cod to Maine this year and loved the warm welcome she received from the locals. But the disappearance of the smoker, whose replacement would cost $12,000 or more, has been difficult to fathom.

Gregory noticed he was missing on Tuesday.

“It’s mind-blowing to me. I’m still in disbelief,” she said Friday. “It’s like when people walk into a parking lot and siphon off their gas and take their catalytic converters.”

There has been a silver lining in the dark cloud of flight. An Ellsworth man saw a news report about the theft and decided to lend her one of his smoking rooms until she could get back on her feet.

“He brought it yesterday,” she said. “It was super generous and kind.”

Dayan hopes to have her own silver lining. He could use it. On Wednesday, he was on the phone with various insurers as his 15-year-old dog lay dying.

“I’m talking on the phone with all these financial institutions, and trying to calm my dog ​​down and pet him,” he said.

He learned that the $2,000 insurance policy he had to take out three years ago when he took out the loan to buy the wood chipper from John Deere was canceled when he refinanced the loan by through his local bank.

Dayan, who reported the theft to local police, hasn’t given up on the idea that his wood chipper might somehow come back. He offers a reward of $500 if he returns broken, but with the name of the person who took it, or $1,000 if he returns no questions asked.

In the meantime, however, he’s going to have to work a lot harder to do his job than before.

“It’s worth it. It makes my life easier,” he said of the wood chipper. “Now I rely on it. I don’t want to go back to the old one anymore.”

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