Missing flutes mystery

January 16, 1994|By Suzanne Loudermilk

The Case of the Missing Flutes would have intrigued Perry Mason. The musical instruments mysteriously began disappearing from a storage room at North Harford High School in Pylesville in mid-November, and there were no clues, even after school personnel searched the entire building.

"We found no trace of the flutes," said assistant principal Wayne H. Perry in a report about the incident.

Enter Wallace C. Brenton, safety and security coordinator for the schools.

"Where others don't succeed, they call me in," he said.

He's not a grandstander; in fact, he's quite modest. For him, this was just another case that called on the interviewing techniques he learned as a detective with the Baltimore City Police Department.

It's also an example of how the school's liaison program with local police and fire officials works.

When there is a security problem at a county school, Mr. Brenton joins forces with whatever agency is involved -- in this case, the Sheriff's Office.

"Sometimes we approach him or vice versa," said Detective Tom Wioncek, who handled the incident at North Harford.

In this case, Mr. Brenton did the preliminary investigation, talked to students and tracked down one flute to a pawnshop in Baltimore City. At that time, the Sheriff's Office became involved.

Eventually, all seven flutes, valued at about $500 each, were found, and a juvenile was charged in the theft.

The recovery of the flutes is especially satisfying to Mr. Brenton since they were not just school property but belonged to individual students, he said.

The flutists were reunited with their instruments last week, Detective Wioncek said.

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