Police hunt pools' crooks; 10 of association's 23 swimming sites burglarized for cash; Officers patrol facilities


County police are searching for burglars who have broken into 10 of the Columbia Association's 23 swimming pools in the last two weeks and have taken petty cash from offices and snack bars.

The break-ins started at Dasher Green Pool on Cradlerock Way on June 7. The most recent occurred Monday night when someone broke in and took money from Thunderhill Pool, 5100 Thunderhill Road.

Burglars also broke into the pool office of Orchard Club Apartments in Elkridge on June 11 or 12.

While every summer brings some vandalism and trespassing at the county pools, police say, the rash of break-ins and thefts is unusual.

"What we are seeing now are people trying to target cash or change," said police spokesman John Superson.

Because of the break-ins, the Columbia Association is no longer keeping money at its pools after hours, said Rob Goldman, the association's director of sports and fitness.

"Hopefully, this is just a summer phase," he said.

Only small amounts of money have been taken in the break-ins, police noted. In the case of the Columbia Association pools, the amount has been less than $25 at each pool, Goldman said. But pool managers have had to contend with the expense and aggravation of repairing locks, doors and windows.

Superson said police have targeted patrols at the pools in an effort to catch burglars, and officers are trying to determine whether the same people are responsible for all of the break-ins.

"They could be related, or it could be multiple suspects," Superson said.

The targeted pools have been: Dasher Green, 6805 Cradlerock Way, June 7; Hopewell Pool, 9200 Rustling Leaf, between June 10 and 11; Longfellow, 5257 Eliots Oak Road, between June 10 and 11; Huntington, 7625 Murray Hill Road, June 10-11; Orchard Club Apartments, 6330 Orchard Club Drive, between June 11 and 12; MacGill's Common, 10023 Shaker Drive, June 13; Dorsey Hall, 4649 Columbia Road, between June 14 and 15; River Hill, 6300 Trotter Road, between June 14 and 15; Talbot Springs, 9660 Basket Ring Road, between June 17 and 18; Stevens Forest, 6061 Stevens Forest Road, between June 17 and 18; and Thunder Hill, 5134 Thunder Hill Road, June 19-20.

Police are looking for help from anyone who may have seen suspicious people or cars in pool areas after hours. "Somebody had to see something," he said. "They are not isolated pools in the middle of nowhere."

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 410-313-3700.

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