3 seized and charged in robberies, burglaries and thefts

Police are confident they have halted a crime spree

July 10, 2005|By Hanah Cho | Hanah Cho,SUN STAFF

Howard County police say they have halted a crime spree with the arrests of three men accused in a dozen robberies, burglaries and thefts from vehicles over several months.

"With three arrests, we solved multiple crimes," Pfc. Jennifer Reidy, a spokeswoman for the Howard County Police Department, said Friday. "It's always great when you could solve a series of crimes in an area by a good investigation."

Pieter Deboer, 19, of Ellicott City; James Shannon, 19, of Columbia; and Andrew Buddy Smith, 20, whose address was unknown, were arrested last month after a weeks-long investigation. The three were charged with robbery, burglary, thefts from vehicles and assault, police said.

Deboer and Shannon were being held at the Howard County Detention Center, said Melanie C. Pereira, director of the county's corrections division. Smith was released on an unsecured bond.

The investigation began May 30 when police received a report of a home-invasion robbery in Fulton that had occurred the night before.

The victims, a 19-year-old woman and a man, told detectives that two acquaintances had come to her house to smoke marijuana, according to charging documents.

When the pair arrived, one of them drew a handgun and demanded money, while the other stood guard at the door with a stun gun, according to charging documents.

The two men left with about $45, according to charging documents.

Police said they executed a search-and-seizure warrant on the homes of the two men June 16 and found evidence of the home invasion at both places, officials said. Both were arrested that day at their homes, police said.

During the search, police said, they discovered stolen property that linked the men to other robbery, burglary and theft cases.

Police said they linked two of the men to a robbery May 13 on the parking lot of the Giant grocery store in River Hill Village Center.

During an interview after his arrest, one of the men told police of his involvement in the grocery robbery and identified the other man as the getaway driver, according to charging documents.

One of those arrested also identified a third man as the robber of the woman on the parking lot, according to charging documents.

The third man was arrested June 23, police said.

The woman told police that she had been loading groceries into her car when someone tried to rip her purse from her, according to charging documents. The woman came face to face with her assailant, according to charging documents.

During the commotion, the woman's child ran away crying but was found later on the parking lot, according to charging documents.

The assailant took the purse and its contents valued at $780, according to charging documents.

One of the men matched the description provided by the woman, according to charging documents.

Police also linked one of the suspects to another burglary May 19 on Westmeath Lane in Clarksville, officials said.

All three men have been connected to at least a dozen cases involving thefts of property from cars, said Reidy.

Police collected numerous stolen items from these cases, including purses, backpacks, cell phones, compact disc players, MP3 players, hand-held computers and jewelry. Some property has been returned to owners, police said.

Police believe there may be more victims because of unclaimed items.

"We don't know how many more [auto thefts] there could be," Reidy said.

Police are urging people who've had property stolen from vehicles on the west side of Columbia but did not report the crime to call 410-313-3200.

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