Police arrest `most wanted'

Man sought in connection with several commercial burglaries last year

Being held without bail

Caught by off-duty officer

charges include theft, assault, resisting arrest

April 16, 2002|By Larry Carson and Lisa Goldberg | Larry Carson and Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

A 33-year-old man wanted in a series of commercial burglaries was captured in Columbia on Sunday after a brief struggle with an off-duty Howard County police officer.

Robert William Stone of the 7900 block of Harriet Tubman Lane in Simpsonville - the county's most wanted fugitive - is being held without bail on charges of burglary, malicious destruction of property, resisting arrest, theft and assault, court officials said.

Off-duty officer Chad Myers spotted a man he recognized as Stone about 5:10 p.m. Sunday entering a home in the 6100 block of Turnabout Lane, near Howard Community College, said police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn.

Myers called for back-up and waited, but said he saw the man emerge holding a child's purple bicycle. When the man saw Myers, he began to run and Myers grabbed him by the shirt. He was handcuffed after a struggle down a staircase in which the man tried to hit the officer, police said in a report. Myers held the man, who later was positively identified as Stone, until help arrived. No one was injured.

Police have been searching for Stone for months, after he failed to appear in court while out on bail on a commercial burglary charge. Police suspect him of a number of break-ins, Llewellyn said, most involving entry through smashed windows.

Stone is charged with more than a dozen break-ins around Columbia, principally at restaurants and auto repair stores in August and September last year. Some places, such as Sonoma's Bar and Grille and the Mobil gas station in Owen Brown Village Center, were broken into more than once, charges allege.

Police say they believe he also broke into places in the Dobbin Road auto repair park, Waterloo, Snowden Square, Wilde Lake Village Center, the Berger Road auto repair park, and on Ellicott City's Main Street.

Police arrested Stone about 4 a.m. Aug. 28 on Main Street, where, they say, they saw he was trying to enter a restaurant with a crow bar after smashing a window.

He was jailed, but was released on bail the next day, when a series of 13 break-ins began and continued through the Labor Day holiday. Based on evidence at those break-ins, police have been searching for Stone since.

Stone was convicted of two house-breaking charges in 1989 and sentenced to three years in prison. The term was suspended until Stone was found in violation of probation, forcing him to serve the entire term. His most recent conviction was in 1997 for possession of a stun gun, which produced a 6-month suspended sentence, court records showed.

Llewellyn said police decided to have a "most wanted" to focus apprehension efforts on a particularly elusive suspect, and chose someone accused of burglaries because they "don't have any outstanding violent crime warrants."

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