5th member of Low Rider club charged in thefts

January 20, 1994|By Ed Heard | Ed Heard,Staff Writer

A fifth member of a Columbia car club called the Low Riders has been charged by Howard County police in connection with the theft of 20 four-wheel-drive vehicles since Christmas.

Keith Richard Burton, 18, of the 8900 block of Footed Ridge was released on $25,000 bond yesterday. Police say they expect to charge three other members of the group by Friday.

Mr. Burton was charged after he surrendered on a theft warrant at police headquarters in Ellicott City Tuesday. Police issued warrants for two other club members Monday.

The Low Riders club consists of about 15 Columbia youths between the ages of 16 and 20 who own or drive sporty, low-riding trucks. Not all of the group's members are thought to be involved in the crimes, police say.

But police allege that those involved have wrecked at least eight of the stolen vehicles in crash derbies at Lake Elkhorn and caused about $12,000 in property damage at the park in an episode there two weeks ago.

Since early last week, police have charged two juveniles, 16 and 17, and three adults, including Mr. Burton, with involvement in the series of thefts. Two of those adults face additional charges, police say.

There also is a warrant on another adult who police say may have left the state for fear of prosecution. Warrants are outstanding on two other suspects, police said.

Police are requesting that parents of the youths arrested be required to make restitution for the damage.

"Hopefully, we will shut them down for a while, if not forever," said Property Detective Tom Glorioso.

Police said the thefts of four-wheel-drive vehicles began Christmas night, when snow blanketed the area, and continued through Jan. 8.

The vehicles -- which included Jeep Cherokees and Chevrolet Blazers -- were stolen from neighborhoods on the east side of Columbia.

The joy rides often culminated in a trip to Lake Elkhorn in Columbia's Owen Brown village, where the participants would play what they called "Crash-Up Derby" and "Bumper Cars," according to police.

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