The FBI recently concluded a two-year investigation of five Baltimore City public works employees, and now two face bribery charges in the United States District Court. The other three face theft and conspiracy charges, which are charged under a similar federal law. Cell phone wiretaps ultimately led to a raid in which federal authorities confiscated physical evidence to aid U.S. attorneys in proving their case against the five. One of the male defendants has been charged with conspiracy to solicit bribes concerning a program receiving federal funds and the only female defendant has been charged with the same, plus an additional count of bribery. The other three males are charged with conspiracy to steal from a program receiving federal funds and with theft.
Recently in Theft Crimes Category
Hundreds of people are arrested or indicted on felony charges each day in Maryland. Theses cases almost never cause news headlines unless the facts of the case are particularly egregious, or if the defendant is some sort of public figure. Police officers, politicians, athletes, and other entertainers are all fair game for the media if they happen to stray on the wrong side of the law. We've become accustomed to it, and are hardly shocked by the headlines anymore. This is especially true when it comes to Baltimore City, where the last few years have seen dozens of police, corrections officers, and professional athletes charged with crimes. But recently, another type of public figure was charged with a crime, and you may find it hard to simply brush this one off. The Office of the State Prosecutor announced last week that a former public school principal has been indicted on multiple counts of felony theft, theft scheme, and embezzlement, which allegedly took place while she was employed at Western High School. The ex-principal is set to appear in the Baltimore City circuit court in mid January for her arraignment. If convicted she faces numerous years in prison, as well as fines, restitution payments, and reporting probation. The charges themselves are enough to make any parent, taxpayer, or anyone else for that matter cringe, but it gets much worse when you read that the victims of this theft scheme were the very students she was hired to look after.
Anne Arundel County Police have arrested two suspects in remarkably bizarre incident involving a stolen public school bus. The bus was reported stolen at about 5:30 in the morning on Tuesday, as school employees reported to the lot to begin their morning student pickup. Employees at the bus lot notified police and school officials as soon as they noticed the missing vehicle. The first concern for both was the safety of the children, as there was fear that the at large bus thieves could try to pick up and perhaps abduct school children. Parents were notified early in the morning and were told not to have their children wait for the bus. After parents were alerted and concerns over the children subsided, police turned their attention to searching for the missing bus. Not surprisingly, a helicopter spotted the stolen bright yellow school bus a few hours after the search commenced. The final resting point was an unpaved access road underneath electrical towers. Further investigation revealed that the bus was badly damaged and there was even evidence the suspects tried to light it on fire before fleeing the scene. Police used surveillance video and information from a witness to locate and apprehend the two suspects in the area where the bus was found. The video reportedly depicted a visibly intoxicated male and female breaking into bus at around 3:30 am and then driving it through the parking lot gate. While it is unclear how they started the bus, police did see evidence that multiple other buses were vandalized before the couple settled on one to take for their joy ride. The suspects are currently in jail and facing numerous criminal charges including theft, burglary, arson, and destruction of property. A preliminary hearing is set on November 5th in the district court in Annapolis.
Starling news came out of Towson two weeks ago when a 20-year old police cadet was arrested for multiple drug and theft crimes. The story became even more compelling when the public learned the alleged crime was committed at Baltimore County Police headquarters. The cadet now stands accused of stealing thousands of dollars of seized cash and narcotics, which were being held in the department's evidence locker. Among the cadet's ten charges are theft between $10,000 and $100,000 and possession with intent to distribute narcotics, both of which are felonies. The cadet's case is tentatively set for a hearing in district court later this month, but the case will almost certainly be brought before a grand jury in circuit court sometime in the next couple of weeks, and an indictment is sure to follow. It is not entirely clear how a cadet with little experience gained access to the secure evidence locker without any supervision. There is apparently full video surveillance of the locker and regular audits of its contents, but whatever the department's security measures were, they were no enough to deter or stop the cadet from completing the theft. The impact of this embarrassing incident stretches far beyond the accused and the police department, as potentially dozens of unrelated criminal cases in the county may be affected as well.
Theft is an example of an offense that is typically referred to as a crime of opportunity. This means that most thefts are committed without premeditation, and only after a person encounters situation where he or she sees possible success in stealing something of value. The Hollywood heist movies about the priceless art thief or the armored truck robbers are not all fiction, but they definitely are not representative of the majority of theft crimes. As a crime of opportunity, theft really sees no boundaries. There are a surprising number of thefts committed at churches, schools, and even hospitals, and literally any object you could think of has been wrongfully taken. We're not just talking about jewelry, cash, and iPhones, but also things like steel bleachers, telephone poles, and even trash cans. And now one thing can be added to the list, as there have been a rash of used clothing thefts reported at Baltimore area donation and recycling bins.
Anne Arundel County Police reported that four people have been arrested in an attempted copper heist in Odenton. Cops were called at around midnight when an assisted living home employee noticed two men running across the home's property carrying cable. Police arrived as the getaway car was leaving the scene, and were able to stop the car and apprehend the two men. Cops also found another man and a woman in the car. All four thieves, who range in age from 24 to 32, were arrested after 250 feet of copper cable along with tree trimmers were found in their possession. Each member of the group has been charged with malicious destruction of property and theft. One of the crew was also charged with making a false statement to a police officer and using a fake identification to avoid prosecution. This same individual was also arrested on a probation violation. This incident was more than just a run of the mill theft gone wrong. As a direct result of the crew's actions more than 1,700 residents temporarily lost electricity. The thieves did not actually cut through live wires, but the wires they did cut fell onto live wires, which were severed. BGE was able to restore power that same night.
Bank robbery one of the oldest and most glamorized crimes in America. It's the storyline behind countless novels, Hollywood dramas, and folklore heroes such as Billy the Kid, and Bonnie and Clyde. But now bank robbery is quickly becoming one of the more common violent crimes in Maryland, and those who have noticed more of these stories appearing in the local news are on to something. According to the FBI there were 86 total bank robberies statewide in 2012, and as of last month there were already 98 in 2013. The majority of these heists are actually successful, but law enforcement eventually catches up to the offenders, especially those who hit the same bank multiple times. And if you think it's rare for a seasoned thief to rob the same bank over and over, think again. It has been a widely used strategy by many thieves to choose a vulnerable establishment and strike multiple times. These vulnerable banks are typically in more rural areas, where crime rates are low and so is the security. In addition, the culprits are often residents of the areas where these banks are located, and if they aren't residents they are highly familiar with the surroundings. For an example see the case of the former Anne Arundel County schoolteacher who was arrested last month for three Glen Burnie robberies, two of which were at the same bank.
Howard County Police have arrested two suspects in a pair of recent burglary at a local snowball stand. The two young men were charged for two incidents occurring during the last week of July. One on the 26th, and the other just four days later when the frozen treat shack was ransacked again. Police were assisted in the investigation by surveillance from the snowball stand and also a convenience store in close proximity to a hardware store where the stand is located. The footage showed that on 30th two males used bolt cutters to cut open a padlock on the front window of the stand and kicked in the door to gain access. While inside the two burglars tore the place apart looking for anything of value, and came away with cash from two of the registers. The exterior spotlight on the property was also missing. Footage from the convenience store on July 26th showed what police later identified as the same two suspects prying open a door to the shop at around midnight. On this night the burglars attempted to steal a safe but were unsuccessful, which no doubt motivated the duo to return.
The Baltimore City Police Department has announced that one of their own has been suspended with pay and is currently under investigation for excessive use of force during an arrest. The incident began when a 14-year-old boy was spotted driving a stolen car. Officers of the city police force's auto theft unit got wind of the whereabouts of the stolen vehicle being operated by the unlicensed driver and began their pursuit. Just minutes into the chase the inexperienced driver lost control of the car and went head on into a concrete curb, which briefly sent the vehicle airborne. The car then crashed into another parked vehicle in a commercial lot and came to its final stop. Seconds later multiple police cars arrived on scene, and with guns drawn pulled the juvenile out of the heavily damaged vehicle. As the boy was pulled out of the vehicle and surrounded by close to ten police officers, another officer ran up and appeared to strike the boy after he had been detained. Seconds later the same officer appeared to stand over and strike the boy once again. The only reason that this information has come to light is the fact that the entire incident was caught on video by a news helicopter. The helicopter began following the stolen car before it ran a curb and went crashing into a vehicle. The helicopter then stopped overhead and zoomed in on the boy being pulled out of the car.
The Blog has chronicled some interesting criminal behavior in the past year. To date, the most notable goes to the man charged with selling marijuana from his ice cream truck. While the frozen treat salesman turned drug dealer still holds the dubious honor of most unorthodox criminal, a recent attempted theft in Frederick does put up a challenge. Police reported that multiple unidentified thieves drove a stolen truck into a supermarket in order to carry out their plan to steal an ATM machine. The truck was stolen about an hour before the crime was committed, and police are investigating how and where it was taken. By driving a truck into the store, we do not mean through some sort of large gate or opening. The stolen truck actually was driven through windows and brick wall lining the front of the store. And while the perpetrators were able to gain access to the interior of the supermarket, they were not able to carry out the second part of their brilliant plan to steal the cash machine. After the thieves failed to get the ATM into the flatbed of the hot Ford F550, they fled the scene and left the large truck inside the store.
The Baltimore Police Department and the Mayor's office has released it annual crime report, and the statistics are mixed as to whether 2012 was another step in the right direction. The city's homicide rate rose for the first time in a few years, and this is a cause for concern from the police and the mayor's office. In 2011 the city reported 197 murders, which is still a relatively high number considering the overall population. But last year this number actually rose ten percent to 217 murders, thus assuring that Baltimore will still be talked about with the likes of Detroit, Oakland, and St. Louis as one of the most violent cities in America. Although homicides were up it still may not be fair to lump our city in with the usual suspects of violent places. In fact, 2012 crime statistics of other violent crimes and certain property crimes show just the opposite.
Police Chief Batts and Mayor Rawlings-Blake were quick to point out that in spite of the homicide spike, the total violent crime rate dropped five percent. Total violent crime includes homicide, as well as other criminal offenses such as robbery, aggravated assault, and rape. Overall there were 400 less of these incidents in 2012 as opposed to 2011. Burglary, arson, and theft numbers were also down by about five percent, and there were a total of 1,800 fewer type I crime victims this past year. Type I crime includes all of the above crimes. Gun crime also increased significantly according to the police statistics. 2012 marked the lowest number of non-fatal shootings in the city since statistics records of these incidents began in the year 2000. There was also a six percent decrease in the combined amount of shootings, carjackings, and armed robberies from 2011 to 2012. Gun arrests and gun seizures did not experience a significant change, as police arrested around 1,100 people for gun crimes and seized over 1,800 illegal firearms.
It was like stealing candy from a baby. At least it was for the police officers who recently arrested a Dundalk man for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. Early in the morning hours employees at a Pennsylvania gas station observed the man placing unidentified candy bars in his pockets. The employees called 911 and law enforcement began searching the immediate area for a man matching the description. The man was spotted within ten minutes by local cops, who detained the Maryland man. After confirming the identification of the candy bar thief, police officers arrested the man for shoplifting. Search incident to arrest revealed two candy bars worth a total of $3.58. It is unclear whether the candy bars were king size, or if the gas station simply charges almost two dollars per bar. Nonetheless, the man would have likely avoided a trip to the local jail had he only been found in possession of candy, but that was not the case.
The Baltimore County man was also found to be in possession of 11 small bags of marijuana, which police claim were packaged for sale. Police did not say just how much marijuana was in each baggie, or whether they discovered any additional evidence that would indicate possession with intent to distribute, but the man was booked on that felony charge along with misdemeanor retail theft. He was released on $5,000 dollars bail. The defendant recently waived his right to a preliminary hearing for the felony distribution case in the same manner that a defendant would waive a preliminary in Maryland. According to Pennsylvania court records, the Dundalk man has one prior conviction for possession of marijuana in addition to this current arrest.
Snickerdoodle cookies might not have the value of the crown jewels in London, or the gold in Fort Knox, but it is certainly easier to attempt a cookie theft. Or at least that is what two Maryland teenagers had thought before attempting the not so glamorous heist. Baltimore County police recently arrested two sweet toothed teenagers for theft after security guards at the Towson town center observed the teens jumping over the counter at a cookie store. Three Maryland teenagers were apparently involved in the theft, but police were only able to arrest two 16 year old suspects. Police did not reveal exactly how many cookies were stolen by the two teenagers, but the amount appears to be significantly less that the amount of cookies that were stolen at the same store just 48 hours earlier.
About two days before the Maryland teenagers pulled of their small time cookie theft, two unidentified people were caught on camera stealing over 20 pounds of cookies from the same Towson store. The store claimed that 12 pounds of chocolate chip cookies, and 12 pounds of snickerdoodle cookies were stolen. Baltimore County police are investigating whether the two cookie thefts are related, and cops have not ruled out a grand cookie theft scheme involving the two teenagers. Police did note that although the most recent theft involved a small amount of cookies, the type of cookie involved was the same in both thefts. The snickerdoodle.
Each year during the summer, the Maryland State Police releases its uniform crime report for the state of Maryland. The crime report uses data collected from every police jurisdiction in all 24 Maryland counties, but only factors in reported crimes in the report. The Maryland State Police defines reported crimes as actual incidents reported to police by victims, witnesses, and other sources used by law enforcement. Complaints of crime that law enforcement deem unfounded are not included in the reported crimes data. The annual uniform crime report is by no means a complete study of all crime in Maryland. In fact, the report only includes eight umbrella crimes in two separate categories, which are violent crimes and property crimes. A specific crime that does not fit into one of the umbrella crimes is not included in the report. Thus many of the most common crimes in Maryland such as DUI, drug possession, and drug sale are not included. In sum, the annual report is not a study of how many people are breaking the law in Maryland each year. Rather, the report analyzes the crimes that that have the greatest impact on citizens, and gauges how safe we really are throughout Maryland.
The 2011 Maryland uniform crime report was released back in June, and according to the data, reported crimes decreased by almost 5 percent from 2010 to 2011. In 2010, there were 204,916 total crime incidents reported, and this number dropped to 195,517 incidents of crime in 2011. Reported incidents of violent crime in Maryland, which includes murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault decreased by almost 9 percent. Reported property crimes, which include breaking or entering, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson decreased by a much lower rate, but still trended downward. Last year, for every 100,000 people in Maryland, there were roughly 3,350 crime victims, and 495 violent crime victims.
Retail theft is one of fastest growing crimes in the United States, but Maryland and especially Baltimore appear to be suffering the greatest increases in theft crimes. The FBI has estimated that retail theft may cost the U.S. about $30 billion per year, and these losses are often passed on to the consumer in the form of higher priced goods. While many retail theft crimes are carried out by novice shoplifters or misguided juvenile thrill seekers, the major impacts of retail theft are the result of organized and sophisticated theft operations. When we hear the phrase organized crime, our minds immediately take us to classic mobster movies such as the Godfather, Goodfellas, and Casino, but not all organized crime involves high stakes gambling or drug operations. In fact, retail theft has become one of the most common sources of income for organized crime operations, and now Maryland appears to be a new up and comer in the organized retail theft arena.
The National Retail Federation or NRF recently included the Baltimore Washington area on its published list of organized retail theft hotbeds, which also includes such cities as Los Angeles, Miami, and Chicago. Organized retail theft in Maryland has gone beyond simply walking into a store and leaving with goods without paying. These theft operations can sometimes involve large numbers of people collaborating to steal goods and then sell or fence the goods at discount prices. The stealing and fencing of goods has become a popular source of income for gangs throughout the Baltimore area. The goods themselves are not always stolen in actual stores, as recently an entire truckload of Kmart goods was stolen by an organized crime operation in Maryland. According to the NRF, the key to stopping large scale organized theft in Maryland is to intercept the stolen goods while in transit. Stolen goods simply cannot be sold in a store parking lot, and thus the goods must be taken to a secure area such as a warehouse where they can be fenced. Frequent checking of tractor trailers on Maryland roads by police is one way to crack down on stolen goods in transit.