Thieves Take Cash

Police and fire scan

February 09, 1992

WESTMINSTER — City police last week were investigating the Wednesday night break-in at the Western Maryland College bookstore.

Police and college officials would not disclose how the thief or thieves gained access to the closed building.

Police did say that a locked safe was opened, and that more than $6,400 in cash and checks was taken from it. Nothing else was taken, police said.

Police said Friday they have no suspects.

ARSONS UP LAST YEAR

DATELINE: PIKESVILLE

PIKESVILLE -- Carroll County registered the state's largest gain in the number of arsons in 1991, the State Fire Marshal's Office said last week.

In a year when arsons in Maryland increased less than 1 percent from 1990 to 1991, Carroll recorded a 32 percent increase for the same period. The number of reported arsons in the county jumped to 54 last year, compared with 41 the year before.

Overall, Western Maryland -- including Carroll, Garrett, Allegany, Washington and Frederick counties -- recorded the state's biggest increase in arsons. The number of deliberately set fires in the region last year was 196, up 5 percent from 1990's 186.

The next biggest increase in arson -- 4 percent -- was recorded in the Eastern Shore region, where the number of arsons in 1991 was 198, up from 1990's 191.

The Washington metropolitan region recorded the state's biggest drop in arsons, with a 7 percent decrease in deliberately set fires last year. Fire officials said 679 arsons were reported last year, compared with 729 during 1990.

Arsons declined by 2 percent in the Baltimore metropolitan area, with 1,411 reported last year, compared with 1,447 in 1990.

Overall, the total number of arsonsreported in Maryland last year was 2,761, down from 1990's 2,740. The State Fire Marshal's Office said arsons killed 10 people and accounted for more than $20 million in property damage last year.

SAFETY WEEK ON

DATELINE: WESTMINSTER

WESTMINSTER -- City police are urging parents to make sure their children are buckled up as part of National Child Passenger Safety Awareness Week, which begins today.

Motorvehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of death for children over the age of 6 months in the U.S., and the country's leading causeof crippling injuries to children.

According to police, more children under age 5 are killed or crippled as passengers involved in motor vehicle crashes than the total number of children killed or injured by the seven most common childhood diseases: pertussis, tetanus, diphtheria, measles, mumps, rubella and polio.

Police, quoting studies done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, say that one in every four safety belts is seriously misused. About 98 percent of all Americans buckle up their children, but only 22 percent doso correctly.

Police are encouraging parents throughout Carroll to make sure they learn how to use seat belts and child safety seats correctly. For more information, contact city police.

MARKEL CASE POSTPONED

DATELINE: WESTMINSTERE

WESTMINSTER -- James Alton Markel, a 34-year-old deaf cocaine addict, asked a District Court judge last week to have his drug possession charges heard by a Carroll County jury.

In granting him a jury trial Thursday, District Judge Donald M. Smith guaranteed Markel a several-month delay before facing those charges stemming from an August arrest in Sykesville.

After being ledinto the courtroom Thursday afternoon, Markel, through his attorney and a sign language interpreter, told the judge he wanted a jury trial. The one-time carpenter was wearing jeans and a sweat shirt; his feet were in chains.

Markel, who has been charged with stealing two cars, forging checks, shoplifting and drug possession, already is serving a three-year sentence in the Maryland Penitentiary in Baltimore on a forged checks conviction two weeks ago in Howard County.

Markel and his family -- who are also deaf -- have been trying to find drug addiction counseling since last spring, when Markel began to use drugs more heavily.

The father of two faces at least six more courtdates in Howard and Baltimore counties between now and May.

If convicted on all charges, Markel could be sentenced to up to 39 more years in prison and fined more than $52,000.

SAFETY STATS UP

DATELINE: WESTMINSTER

WESTMINSTER -- Almost 80 percent of all motorists observed by city police in January were wearing their seat belts.

As part of the Governor's Highway Safety Program, police here observed more than 4,200 vehicles over two days at four busy intersections. The 79 percent usage rate is 11 percent higher than during last January, police said.

A breakdown of the usage patterns shows that 70 percent of males used their seat belts; 87 percent of females wore theirs;and 54 percent of all truck drivers wore theirs.

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