BARRE — A central Vermont man is facing charges of burglarizing a store and taking a gun and other items from a deputy sheriff’s home.
Matthew R. Wiltse, 28, pleaded not guilty to two felony burglary charges in Washington County criminal court Thursday. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 30 years in prison and a $2,000 fine. He is being held on $5,000 bail.
Police said they were responding to a report of a burglary at a Caledonia County deputy sheriff’s house in Barre on Jan. 7 when an officer saw Wiltse walking down the road covered in snow. The officer said Wiltse was out of breath and that after a search, the officer found two flashlights and a white plastic trash bag on him. Wiltse said he used the bag for his boots and was let go, according to the police affidavit.
Police said the deputy’s service handgun, two laptops and a digital camera were among the items that were taken by someone who forced open the front door, damaging the door and the frame.
An officer searched the area and found a white plastic trash bag in the snow containing the laptops and the gun. Police said they then used a police dog to track the burglar and the dog led them from the home to the spot where the white bag was found, then to the street where police had found Wiltse walking.
A witness told police earlier in the day that a man, in the same kind of clothing police saw Wiltse wearing, had stopped by asking if he needed any shoveling done. The witness said the man was carrying a shovel that matched the description of one found at the deputy’s house, which the deputy said was not his.
Wiltse is facing a separate burglary charge in the store break-in. Police say he broke the glass on the front door of the Quality Market in December and took several packs of cigarettes.
According to the police affidavit, store cameras recorded the burglary, which lasted less than a minute, and an officer said he recognized Wiltse in the video from previous encounters.
Wiltse is already facing charges of unlawful mischief and retail theft. He has convictions for escape in 2010, operating a vehicle without the owner’s consent in 2009, giving false information to law enforcement in 2009, petit larceny in 2009 and unlawful trespass in 2008.
Police say they have no address for him, but his lawyer said Wiltse has been staying with a friend in Barre.MORE IN Central Vermont
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