Items stolen from offices recovered

Ex-cleaning worker charged in 7 cases

Crofton

July 25, 2000|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

When the office television, two video recorders and DVD player were stolen in May, Sheri Sigley, the manager of a Crofton dentist's office, figured she would never see them again.

But Anne Arundel County police have returned the television and one VCR. And detectives say that this week they may be able to return other stolen electronic equipment to this office and a half-dozen other Crofton businesses targeted in a burglary spree that began in April.

"We just wrote it off," said Sigley, manager of Mark Gurman's Family Dentistry. "We figured we were lucky they didn't take more.

"We were shocked to get them back. You never hear about that. We were very surprised. The police did excellent work."

Last week, Western District Detectives Bart Shilow and Patrick Ronaghan arrested a suspect in the burglaries at the dentist's office and six other offices in Crofton.

Jeffrey Michael Knight, 37, of Bowie was charged with seven counts of burglary, five counts of felony theft and related misdemeanors.

He was released from the county detention center on Jennifer Road after posting a $125,000 bond.

The suspect was employed briefly by the cleaning company that maintains the seven offices; cleaning supplies and keys were taken from his former employer, the detectives said.

Shilow and Ronaghan had been investigating the string of burglaries, at two office buildings across the street from each other on Defense Highway, near U.S. 301, when a Prince George's County detective provided a break in the case.

They had collected fingerprints and surveillance video but had found no signs of forced entry. So, Shilow said, they suspected the thief might be a former employee of a maintenance or cleaning company.

Then the Prince George's County detective, who had been investigating pawn shops, found a computer he thought was part of his own case.

He called Anne Arundel County police when he booted up the computer, which showed that it had belonged to a Crofton food service business and turned out to be among dozens of electronics that had been stolen in the string of burglaries.

With the pawn shop record in hand, Anne Arundel County detectives had a solid lead, said Shilow.

"We have to give [Prince George's County police] credit," he said. "It really helped us along. We started checking other pawn records of the guy."

Before long, Shilow said, they felt they had enough evidence to arrest the suspect.

The detectives said that the suspect told them in a police interview which other pawn shops stolen items had been sold to.

"You never expect to see anything back once it's been taken because of all the avenues for items to disappear into it," said George L. Rooney, whose laptop computer was stolen from one of the Crofton businesses earlier this month and was returned last week.

"I was even more surprised it was returned in its original condition," Rooney said. "I even got the leather carrying case back. The police were right on top of it."

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