BARRE — A homeless man is accused of stealing tools from the Washington Apartments.
Benjamin J. Gaughan, 37, pleaded not guilty Monday in Washington County criminal court in Barre to felony counts of burglary and grand larceny. If convicted, Gaughan faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison. He was ordered held at Northeast Correctional Complex in St. Johnsbury on $1,500 bail.
Officer Brittany Lewis, of the Barre City police, said in her affidavit a burglary was reported by the Barre Housing Authority on Nov. 14. Employees at the housing authority told Lewis a male entered the locked Washington Apartments building on Washington Street on Nov. 13. Lewis said the employees reported the burglar got in by following a resident inside after the resident gained entry by using a key card.
Lewis said the burglar, later identified as Gaughan, then went to the building’s boiler room and stole multiple items.
Lewis said police later learned the items stolen were tools belonging to ENS Electric out of Williamstown, a company that had been working on the building. One of the company’s employees had arrived at the building and found about $900 worth of tools were missing as well as 1,000 feet of wire. The tools included screwdrivers, a driver set and a saw.
A witness who lives in the building told police she had seen Gaughan come into the building and he told her he was there to visit someone. Lewis said police obtained a photo of Gaughan from the building’s surveillance footage. She said police spoke with the person Gaughan claimed he was there to see and she identified Gaughan as the man in the photo.
Lewis said the surveillance footage showed Gaughan rifling through people’s belongings in the building’s laundry room. She said he also went through items of food on a table before prying open the door to the boiler room and taking the tools.
Gaughan then put the tools on a wheeled cart and moved the cart out of view of the camera, according to court records.