Thieves prefer Acuras, thank you As costly Legends disappear from lots, Towson Town Center beefs up security

June 19, 1993|By Frank D. Roylance | Frank D. Roylance,Staff Writer

A story in The Sun June 19 incorrectly reported that one of seven Acura Legends stolen the previous week in Towson was stolen from the Dulaney Valley Shopping Center. That car, like the six others, was stolen from the Towson Town Center.

The Sun regrets the errors.

Attention shoppers! Towson Town Center is experiencing a run on Acura Legends.

Trouble is, the giant shopping mall doesn't have a car dealership.

The expensive Legends are being stolen from the mall's 4,800-space parking lots.

Six were stolen last week.

"These are professionals who know what they want, and they are getting it, to a degree," said mall manager Christopher Schardt.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

The Legends -- some valued as high as $20,000 -- began disappearing Monday, June 7, when a 1989 model was stolen. Three Legends vanished June 9, two more disappeared June 10. A seventh Legend was reported stolen June 8 from Dulaney Valley Shopping Center, just across Dulaney Valley Road from the Towson Town Center.

A Towson Town Center security guard spotted one of the Legends as it was being driven off by three young men Thursday. He followed it a short distance, then called police, who spotted it on Loch Raven Boulevard a short time later before losing it near Northern Parkway.

"This is the largest number we've had stolen in the shortest period of time, of any [model] car," Mr. Schardt said. "Someone's out there with a market for them."

Sgt. Stephen R. Doarnberger, a county police spokesman, said police are increasing their enforcement efforts at the mall and plan to meet next week with the mall's management and security personnel.

All the Legends were stolen while their owners shopped in the evening, between 6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. One of the cars was recovered on mall property the day after it was stolen. No arrests have been made.

Acura Legends have become a favorite target of Maryland car thieves.

Three were taken from Columbia Mall's parking lot between 7 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. last Saturday.

In general, only 10 percent of all car thefts reported in Baltimore County result in arrests, Sergeant Doarnberger said.

He said that police have made only one arrest in the 40 car thefts reported since Jan. 1 from Towson Town Center.

Fourteen of those thefts have occurred since June 1. The number of cars stolen at the mall that have been recovered was not available, but Sergeant Doarnberger said police recover about 80 percent to 90 percent of the cars stolen countywide.

Car theft has been a rapidly growing problem in Baltimore County.

In 1983, motorists reported 1,903 vehicles stolen. That number rose to 4,103 in 1992.

It's not just that there are more cars to be stolen, Sergeant Doarnberger said.

"We certainly didn't double the number of cars [on the road] in a 10-year period."

Instead, he said, "It has become more popular among young groups of auto thieves to steal cars. These groups of people do it as recreation."

Mr. Schardt would not disclose how many security guards are employed at Towson Town Center.

He did say that four guards patrol the parking garages and lots for every one guard working inside the mall.

"We have three vehicles that patrol the three parking structures and the surface lot during operating hours, and we also have two bike patrols as well," he said.

"We have also solicited cooperation from the auxiliary police and received it."

In response to last week's Acura thefts, he said, the mall is increasing its garage patrols, especially during daylight hours.

And, it is paying special attention to Acuras.

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