Officials want auto theft unit to be continued


Concerned that state funding for a Baltimore-Baltimore County auto theft task force might not continue past June, officials from both localities gathered yesterday to press for an extension.

The task force, which includes 25 detectives, is responsible for a steady decline in auto thefts, county Police Chief Terrence B. Sheridan said after a news conference at Greenspring Shopping Center in the Pikesville area.

"We need to garner support to keep this thing going," he said.

The Regional Auto Theft Team, formed two years ago, receives about $315,000 a year from the state Maryland Vehicle Theft Prevention Council.

Sheridan said task force detectives have broken up gangs whose members have told police they have stolen up to 500 cars during the past year.

In August, the task force arrested Stephen Vaughn, 18, who was charged with 36 counts of auto theft, burglary and armed robbery in Baltimore and Howard counties and the city.

"This is a regional problem, and we need this task force to not only prevent robberies, but also to make apprehensions," said Col. Steven Crumrine of the city police.

Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger said state legislators have not said they will discontinue funding. But he still plans to lobby them when the General Assembly session starts next month.

"This press conference was really to educate the public about what the task force can do," Ruppersberger said. "The task force works, and we want it to continue."

Pub Date: 12/17/96

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