Baltimore County police have stepped up patrols in the Hillendale area where a night prowler has broken into about 15 houses since July.
The prowler, whom neighborhood residents call a cat burglar because the intruder quickly and quietly slips in and out of houses while they are sleeping, hit two houses on Taylor Avenue early Oct. 19.
"Basically what he is doing is cutting up a screen and then opening an unlocked window," said burglary Detective Edward Spragg. "He is taking mostly cash or small items laying around the houses."
Maj. Michael Stelmack of the Towson Precinct said he has assigned additional uniformed patrols. Undercover officers also are patrolling the community, he said.
"We have more officers in the area looking for him, and if anyone sees anything suspicious, they should call us," he said.
A prowler began hitting homes in the Hillendale area in July. The break-ins stopped early last month but began again with the two homes on Taylor Avenue last week.
Detectives believe that the same person is responsible for all of the break-ins, because they have been done in the same manner. The prowler spots an unlocked window, quickly cuts through the screen and takes small items or cash.
No one has seen the burglar, so police have no description.
"This is a man who sees an opportunity, and he takes it," said police spokesman Bill Toohey. "These crimes could be prevented if people kept their windows locked or put locks on that only allow the window to open a few inches to let in some air."
Jacqueline Goldsmith, who lives in the 1400 block of Taylor Ave., said her house was one of the two broken into Oct. 19.
Goldsmith was asleep in the house with her husband, Phillip, and two daughters when the prowler broke in through a ground-level kitchen window. She said she had left that window open a crack, and the burglar popped out the screen and crawled through the window.
"I think my husband might have caught him off guard, because he heard noises and went to the top of the stairs and looked in the living room," she said. "But he didn't go into the living room because everything looked quiet, so he went back to bed."
It was not until 10 a.m. that day that the Goldsmiths realized something was amiss.
"When I got up, I was still half-asleep, and I saw that the window was open and [I] just closed it," she said. "Then it hit me that all my flowers and curtains were out of place, and I knew someone had broken in.
Goldsmith said the burglar took her husband's pager, wallet and a flashlight.
"The scary part is just knowing that someone was in the house while we were sleeping," she said. "I have two daughters -- a 15-year-old and a 1-year-old. The baby wakes me up at least once a night for a bottle. I don't know what I would have done if I had run into him."
Pub Date: 10/28/96