Police suspect 1 group in thefts

Similarities noted among burglaries in Ellicott City, Elkridge

January 09, 2001|By Mark Ribbing | Mark Ribbing,SUN STAFF

Howard County police are investigating a spate of burglaries in the Ellicott City and Elkridge areas that they believe were committed by the same people.

No arrests have been made, and police say they do not have any suspects. On Friday, the department issued a call for help from county residents in solving the crimes.

The roughly 20 burglaries and burglary attempts have occurred within a limited area and share characteristics, police said.

"What is unique is that, while the numbers are similar [to last year's], it seems the same suspects are committing the same crime repeatedly in a small geographic area," police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said yesterday.

Many of the crimes have taken place in residential areas near Montgomery Road, from the Wheatfield Way area of Ellicott City to Lawyers Hill Road between Interstate 95 and U.S. 1 in Elkridge. About a third of them took place in the area of Brittany Drive and Stone- crest Drive, off Montgomery Road in Ellicott City, Llewellyn said, adding that the burglary statistics for these areas are "not too far off" from those for the same period a year ago.

Police declined to discuss the traits the cases have in common to test the authenticity of tips they might receive from the public. Police have said that the burglars have targeted single-family houses, and tend to operate during the early evening or daylight hours, when residents are away.

In many of the cases, the burglars entered homes by kicking in a door. The thieves reportedly have stolen cash, jewelry, electronic gear and computer equipment.

Police have distributed fliers in the areas where the burglaries and burglary attempts have taken place, and they urge residents to report suspicious behavior.

Those who live on blocks that have been burglarized said they were aware of the thefts and have taken precautions to protect themselves, such as using automatic timers to turn on lights in their homes.

"We and our neighbors just kind of looked out for each other and left our porch lights on all night," said Denise Veres, an Ellicott City homemaker who lives on a block where two of the break-ins occurred.

Residents and police said there have been rumors that arrests have been made in the case.

"I think they may have been caught, so I think people are kind of relieved," said another Ellicott City homemaker, Karen Huston.

Police insist the rumors are not true. "We have not arrested anyone in these burglaries. We don't really know where that got started," Llewellyn said of the rumors.

Police are offering free home-security checks for residents, who may request the service by calling the department's Community Services Section at 410-313-4780.

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