Three men have pled guilty in Ossipee District Court for crimes related to several incidents last January in which Lakes Region ice-fishing bobhouses were forcibly entered and gear stolen.
Back in January, bobhouse burglars targeted shanties on Nineteen Mile Bay on Lake Winnipesaukee in Tuftonboro and Loon Lake in Freedom. The perpetrators pried locks off the bobhouse doors to gain access. Power ice augers, heaters and tip-ups were among the items stolen, including family fishing gear with sentimental value.
Through a months-long cooperative investigation by New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Conservation Officers, Tuftonboro Police and the N.H. State Police Major Crimes Polygraph Unit, three suspects were identified and subsequently charged on April 13th. They are:
- Eric Ross of Tamworth, age 27, pled guilty to two charges: Conspiracy to Commit Theft by Unauthorized Taking, at Nineteen Mile Bay; and Theft by Unauthorized Taking, at Loon Lake.
- Ethan Billings of Center Ossipee, age 22, pled guilty to two charges: Theft by Unauthorized Taking, at Nineteen Mile Bay; and Receiving Stolen Property, from Loon Lake.
- Luke G. Fay of Cornish, Maine, age 19, pled guilty to Theft by Unauthorized Taking, at Loon Lake.
All the charges are Class B misdemeanors, resulting in permanent criminal records for the men. They were ordered to pay fines and restitution totaling $722 for Ross, $722 for Billings and $548 for Fay. The men will also lose their fishing licenses for one year. Stolen equipment that was recovered during the investigation will be returned to the rightful owners at the conclusion of the legal proceedings.
“These thefts are a serious legal violation and a breach of trust for people who for years have believed their property would be safe in a community space,” said Fish and Game Conservation Officer Alex Lopanshanski. “We are glad this has been resolved, and we hope the successful completion of this case will help prevent future incidences of this kind of behavior, which damages not only property, but a long-standing New Hampshire tradition.”