After a car was stolen in Westminster, police and officials hear concerns from residents

There was standing room only at the City of Westminster’s mayor and Common Council meeting Monday, Aug. 13, as residents attended en masse following citywide concerns of increasing crime — including reports of a stolen vehicle Monday morning.

A Westminster community Facebook group erupted with chatter after one member posted about the auto theft early Monday. Some members employed the platform as a method to encourage their neighbors to attend the council meeting. It appeared as though many did.


“We’re interested to know what kind of crime has been reported on East Green Street,” Bob Klages, of West Green Street, told the Times before the 7 p.m. council meeting. “We understand that there was an uptick of crime. Is it true?”

The vehicle theft was reported from Lodestone Court in Westminster, and is believed to have taken place between 10:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 12, and 6:50 a.m. Monday.


The car is described as a black 2004 Jaguar XJ. Scott DeMario owns the vehicle, he said at the council meeting.

“So this morning I get a text at 6:45,” DeMario told the Times after the meeting. “Neighbor said, ‘Hey, I found your owners manual to your car in my front yard.”

DeMario added: “I thought, ‘That’s kinda weird,’ so I look outside my bedroom window and my car’s gone.”

Even when you take precautions and lock your doors, it is, sadly no guarantee. Such was the case earlier this week when a home on Uniontown Road in Westminster was broken into and a car stolen overnight, while the homeowners and their family were inside sleeping.

The Westminster Police Department is investigating the incident. Maj. Thomas Ledwell said several thefts from autos were reported nearby in the residential area south of Uniontown Road and are more than likely related to the incident.

Klages said he’s eager to know if other communities — other than those that’ve made recent headlines — are at risk.

“The No. 1 thing is just info,” he said.

Westminster Police Chief Jeffrey Spaulding agreed, describing accurate information as paramount in an era where misnomers and rumors can proliferate on social media. He said that meetings, like the one held in The Greens community Thursday, Aug. 9, between police and the public are important.

Two officers from the Westminster Police Department met with residents from The Greens community Thursday after a string of auto thefts and increasing concerns about crime. The officers listened to the community's concerns, fielded questions and offered advice.

“(Such meetings) make the public know we’re listening to concerns,” Spaulding told the Times before the council meeting. They also help set the record straight by disseminating facts, he added.

The public unrest, Spaulding said, could be result of a few serious crimes, including “major events on Green Street.”

In a one-week stretch in late July there were two shootings reported in the East Green Street area of the city.

“We know who was shot at,” Spaulding said before the meeting, “and believe we know why.”

Both of the shootings were “without a shadow of a doubt” drug related, Councilman Tony Chiavacci told the packed councilroom Monday. Chiavacci is the council’s liaison to the Westminster Public Safety Advisory Council, which has convened multiple times since the reports of shots fired.


The Westminster Police Department is continuing to investigate two separate shooting incidents that occurred in downtown Westminster in the last week.

Spaulding added that his department is collaborating with the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office and Maryland State Police, but still have not identified the person responsible for the shootings. The police chief, citing the ongoing investigation, said he could not share more information.

During the council meeting Chiavacci lauded the efforts of Spaulding’s department, and the chief’s decision to call on other agencies.

Beefed-up police presence — both by Westminster police and other agencies — has yielded eight felony drug arrests and 19 misdemeanor arrests since the second report of shots fired July 27, Spaulding said.

Spaulding’s department has also been busy with thefts from vehicles and stolen cars.

The Westminster Police Department issued a reminder for citizens to lock vehicles to deter theft, especially during the summer months.

DeMario’s across-the-street neighbor talked to him in the morning, he said.

“He asked me if I was looking for the car,” DeMario said, “I said, ‘Yeah it’s gone … and (his neighbor) up the street says he has the manual.”

The across-the-street neighbor proceeded to tell DeMario that he heard a car alarm blaring at about 4 a.m., so the neighbor looked out the window, DeMario recounted.

“He said, ‘I saw a tall, skinny, white male — black shorts, black T-shirt — walking up the sidewalk, got in your car, turned the key on, backed it up and left,’ ” DeMario explained. “(The neighbor) said, ‘It looked like somebody you knew, or one of you guys, the way they just nonchalantly walked up.’ ”

DeMario added that he’s unsure if there was a spare key in the vehicle, but he and his wife suspect a valet key was left in the console, as “the car was at the garage two weeks ago. … My wife had her key.”

According to a news release from the Westminster Police Department, at about 2 a.m. Monday, Aug. 13, a resident of Rich Mar Street reported that two unknown individuals were searching a vehicle belonging to the resident. Upon being detected the individuals fled the area on foot. A search of the area for the subjects was unsuccessful.

A third theft from a vehicle was reported from Collier Court in the same overnight time frame.

This spate of thefts from vehicles comes after a similar spree in the Uniontown Road corridor in late June.

Police remind residents to lock their vehicles and avoid storing valuables in unattended cars. Suspicious activity such as individuals tampering with a motor vehicle, should be reported immediately via 911.

Those who may have more information about the vehicle theft Monday or thefts from vehicles should contact Sgt. Jeffrey Schuster at 410-848-3846. Anonymous tips can be called in via the TIPS line at 410-857-8477 or by texting the keyword TIPWPD and your tip to 847411.

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