Apartment residents wary after lingerie is stolen 200 undergarments taken in year, police say

October 16, 1997|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

Some residents of an Annapolis apartment complex are worried about their safety after a bizarre series of burglaries, beginning apparently when the culprit used an old key to get into a new tenant's apartment and steal lingerie.

At the sprawling 516-unit Harbor Gates complex off Bestgate Road, where police say a thief has made off over the past year with nearly 200 pieces of clothing, women especially say they are nervous.

"I thought they changed the locks as soon as [people] moved in here," said Leona Schanble, who works for an elderly woman who moved into the complex last week.

Another woman, who would not give her name because she said she is afraid, said, "Right now they're busy [planting] flowers. I wonder what they're doing for our safety."

Harbor Gates managers say residents have no need to fear. They warned against leaving keys outside apartments or anywhere strangers could find them.

They said that locks are changed every time someone moves out, but could not explain how the old key could have been used to open a door after a new resident moved in.

"Every community changes the locks," said Julie Burke, complex manager. "These are our residents, and we care a lot about them. I would never want any kind of harm to come to them."

According to court records, Jeffrey Jorgensen, the man charged in the burglaries, got a key from a resident after an August 1996 date, then returned several months later -- after his date had moved out and a new resident had moved in -- and used the key.

The new resident told police she started noticing bras and panties missing from her apartment last October and, in March, her boyfriend caught a man in the apartment. The man told the boyfriend he was from maintenance and left, police said.

The documents say he obtained 13 other apartment keys hidden under floor mats, in garbage Dumpsters and over doors in the complex, broke in and stole more clothing.

Regional manager Lana Karasek said she knew of no reason keys would have been found in trash containers because old keys are not thrown away.

On July 10, another resident tried opening his door and felt someone pushing against it, police said. When the resident got in, he found a well-dressed man, who told him he was from maintenance, then ran, according to court records.

When police arrested Jorgensen Oct. 3, he told them he had broken into the first woman's apartment three or four times, authorities said. He gave police her key and others and 182 pieces of lingerie, police said.

Jorgensen, 42, of the first block of Murray Ave. in Annapolis was charged with three counts of first-degree burglary and one count of theft. He is free on bail.

Pub Date: 10/16/97

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