80 Annapolis meters raided

April 19, 2008

Someone has stolen change from more than 80 parking meters in downtown Annapolis in the past week, police said yesterday.

Five meters were emptied Thursday night, the fewest of any night since the thefts started April 11, said Officer Hal Dalton, an Annapolis police spokesman.

He said the thief is opening the meters with a version of a key that is produced by the meters' manufacturer and emptying the change - mostly quarters - from the machines.

The key is not available to the public. "You can't just run down to the hardware store and make a copy," Dalton said.

Officials estimate the thief has taken about $2,000.

Witnesses have reported seeing a suspect in the area. He is described as white, 22 to 26 years old, 5 feet 10 inches tall, 150 pounds, with medium-length dirty blond hair and wearing a dark T-shirt and blue jeans. He was holding a trash bag.

Legitimate meter collectors operate a white van with the city seal on it and wear uniforms. They also empty the coins into a specially made wheeled cart and do not carry the coins with their hands or in bags.

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