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Columbia burglaries may be connected


A suspect in the Friday night burglary of a Columbia apartment may also be responsible for more than 40 break-ins in the same area, police said.

The suspect was identified by a 20-year-old college student who woke up during the burglary and confronted the man as he was fleeing from the apartment on the 4900 block of Columbia Road.

Police yesterday released a description of the suspect, who had not been apprehended. Police described him as a 5-foot-9-inch white male in his late teens, with short dark hair and a tan complexion. Police said the burglaries reported since late June might be connected to him because of the similar method of entry robbers used and the areas the burglaries occurred in -- the majority were found in Dorsey's Search and Long Reach.

"We don't know if all the burglaries are really connected," Sgt. Gary Gardner said. "But it's the only lead that we have right now so we're not ruling it out.

"The only similar [mode of operation] is that the suspect enters through windows or doors that are unlocked and in some cases, pried open," he said.

The suspect in this case entered through a screen window of the apartment at 5 a.m. Although the victim was not injured, the suspect managed to steal his computer equipment, police said.

The suspect is thought to be working with a group because a significant number of burglaries have taken place in one area during a night, Sergeant Gardner said. He also said that although no one has been hurt or harmed in any of the burglaries, they have often occurred while the residents were home asleep.

"Just because there's a composite of only one person, we haven't ruled out the idea that there's a group of people involved and that it might be a burglary ring," he said.

He said the suspect(s) was known to steal purses, wallets, cordless phones and vehicle keys once he has entered a home -- sometimes using the keys to steal the victim's car too. Three cars have been stolen so far, but two were found in Columbia and the third in Baltimore.

Investigators are asking anyone with information about the burglaries to contact the criminal investigation division at 313-2220 or call the Metro Crime Stoppers 24 Hour Hotline at 276-8888.

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