Anne Arundel police crack burglary ring

Probe extends to Howard

four men charged with theft

May 25, 2002|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County police knew they were on to something this week when they followed four men to a storage facility and saw them unload two trunks full of stolen guns, but they still aren't sure just how big their jackpot will be.

An investigation into a burglary ring in Anne Arundel and Howard counties is expected to continue into next week, as detectives search for as many as 100 guns, plus computers and other electronic items stolen in the past month.

The break in the case came late Thursday and early yesterday, when Anne Arundel County officers arrested four men and recovered 28 stolen guns, more than $1,000 worth of crack cocaine and other items from a house and a rented storage unit in Pasadena, police said.

"The detectives are still going through the recovered items and matching the inventory against burglary reports," Officer Charles Ravenell, a county police spokesman, said yesterday.

It wasn't until Thursday afternoon that Anne Arundel County police began to suspect that the burglary ring they were investigating might also be responsible for thefts from businesses and homes in Howard County.

Police in Howard County called Anne Arundel detectives with a license plate number they'd linked to a recent burglary there.

Officers from Anne Arundel County's Northern District tactical patrol unit recognized the license plate as one they had linked to two commercial burglaries last month in Glen Burnie, Ravenell said.

They spotted a Ford Mustang with the matching tag number in Brooklyn on Thursday and followed it to a Pasadena storage facility, where police say they saw the men unload handguns, shotguns and rifles.

Police in both counties are looking for other stolen items and are investigating whether other persons are involved in the ring, said Ravenell.

Yesterday, four men were being held at the Anne Arundel County detention center in Annapolis on theft and related burglary charges. All four men face nearly identical charges in Howard County, police said.

Charles E. Cole, 26, and Garland W. Popkins, 29, both of Baltimore; Stephen E. Smith, 21, of Glen Burnie, who is also accused of violations of probation; and Jason C. Lebaron, 21, of Winchester, Va., who also is wanted as fugitive in Tennessee, have been charged in the burglary ring, authorities said.

During a search of a house in the 7900 block of Seabreeze Drive in Pasadena early yesterday, Anne Arundel County detectives recovered car stereos and speakers, power tools, hobby trains, golf clubs, computers and jewelry, police said.

At least some of the items appear to have been stolen during burglaries at an electronics store and hobby shop in Glen Burnie within the past month, Ravenell said.

Police said they found 28 stolen guns, crack cocaine with a street value of about $1,200 and $1,500 cash Thursday at a storage facility in the 7900 block of Fort Smallwood Road. Two stolen cars also were seized, police said.

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