Police seeking father who allegedly directed 5-year-old daughter to steal package from Bel Air porch

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The Harford County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in finding the man who it says directed his daughter to steal a package off the porch of a Bel Air home late last month, a crime the sheriff called “atrocious.”

An arrest warrant was issued for Gary Martin Smith, 46, of Abingdon, according to the Sheriff’s Office. In it, Smith faces charges of theft, conspiracy to commit theft, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and fourth-degree burglary.

Deputies were notified of the incident on Dec. 2 and determined Smith was in the 400 block of Inez Court in Bel Air on Nov. 30 at approximately 4 p.m., when he allegedly directed his 5-year-old daughter to steal the package off the porch of a home in that block, the sheriff’s office said. Inside the package was a pair of women’s boots.

After video of the alleged theft was posted on the sheriff’s office Facebook page on Dec. 7, the deputy handling the case received an anonymous tip that identified the girl in the video. Deputies were able to positively identify the girl, which led to the charges against her father.

Early in their investigation, detectives spoke with Smith, who Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler said tried “to distance himself from the actual act of stealing the package.”

“Laying that on the feet of the 5-year-old, which if the act itself is not despicable enough, to go the extra step and say the 5-year-old make you do it, it’s pretty sad, pretty sad,” Gahler said Wednesday. “I don’t even have the right word to describe how that is.”

Regardless if the girl stole the package of her own volition, which Gahler said he doubts, her father still knew the item was being stolen.

The sheriff said he hopes the little girl knows she is not to blame.

“Even if it was, on the outside thought, her idea, that’s where we as adults are supposed to raise our children properly, say that’s not the right thing to do, that’s someone else’s property,” Gahler said. “Personally I don’t believe that for one solitary second.”

He called it a crime of opportunity. Martin and his daughter were walking down the street, he noticed a package on the porch and he allegedly directed his daughter to remove it, Gahler said.

Since deputies questioned Smith, deputies have not been able to find him.

Anyone with information regarding his whereabouts, is asked to call the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, 410-838-6600.

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