Man sought in theft at facility for ill children

Suspect stole about $1,000 in video game consoles from McDonald House

November 11, 2003|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

A thief strode into the Ronald McDonald House in Baltimore over the weekend and stole about $1,000 in video game equipment used by children being treated for serious illnesses at local hospitals, city police said yesterday.

For sick children and their families, Ronald McDonald Houses are a haven. For that reason, the theft Saturday morning went beyond the loss of the games, according to police and Marianne Rowan-Braun, the house's executive director.

"It's just unconscionable," Rowan-Braun said. "The children feel violated and scared."

The theft occurred about 8:45 a.m. in the 600 block of W. Lexington St. when a man walked into the facility, past its main office, down a hallway and into a playroom that had the consoles, including PlayStation 2 and Xbox consoles, Rowan-Braun said.

The man stuffed the consoles into a duffel bag and was about to leave when a manager confronted him, she said.

The thief claimed to be a volunteer, according to police. He then fled out the front door as the manager was escorting him to the building's office to get more information.

Rowan-Braun said the man apparently had visited the site in the past.

She said she was not sure how he entered the building's front door, which is usually locked. Someone either accidentally left it unlocked or unlocked the door for him, according to police and Rowan-Braun.

Yesterday, police were processing a surveillance videotape taken from the facility, they said. Rowan-Braun and police described the suspect as a black man in his 30s who is 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds. He was wearing a black leather jacket with a Ravens emblem on its back, a black cap, khaki pants and black Nike tennis shoes.

The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Baltimore provides a place for children and their families to stay while the children are treated for serious illnesses at local hospitals. It serves about 1,500 families a year, Rowan-Braun said.

Police urge anyone with information about the theft to call detectives at 410-396-2411.

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