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Gaithersburg man charged in Va. rooftop burglary


Investigators from Howard, Anne Arundel and Montgomery counties are looking into whether a man arrested this week on the roof of a Northern Virginia dry cleaners is connected to a recent string of similar rooftop burglaries in Central Maryland.

Fairfax County police yesterday charged Steven W. Tipton, 33, of Gaithersburg, with burglary after he was caught on the roof of the Park Cleaners in a Springfield shopping center, said Mary Ann Jennings, a police spokeswoman. Tipton was being held without bail pending an arraignment, she said.

Jennings said Tipton was arrested around 11:45 p.m. Tuesday after an officer ordered him to climb down from the roof. Tipton, who was wearing blue jeans and a green shirt, did not resist arrest, she said.

Tipton has not been identified as a suspect in other rooftop burglaries in Virginia and Maryland, Jennings said.

"We are not saying this guy is linked to any other crime," she said.

However, authorities in Howard, Anne Arundel and Montgomery said yesterday they planned to investigate whether Tipton is connected to a string of rooftop burglaries in their counties.

Authorities have said they believe that the recent spate of burglaries -- committed by an intruder who climbs down a ventilation shaft and steals whatever cash is available -- might have been committed by the same suspect or suspects.

"We've been made aware that a suspect has been arrested and charged in a case similar to our cases, and we are looking into whether or not he is connected," said Sherry Llewellyn, a Howard police spokeswoman.

In Howard, four dry cleaners along U.S. 40 were struck last month. In Anne Arundel, six dry cleaners were burglarized since mid-October, said Sgt. Shawn Urbas, a police spokesman.

"We're continuing the investigation to see if charges can be filed against [Tipton] for the burglaries in our county," Urbas said.

Montgomery County has seen five rooftop burglaries of varying methods since July, said police spokeswoman Lucille Baur.

Dry cleaners in Carroll and Baltimore counties have also been struck in recent months by a burglar who climbed down the ventilation shafts.

According to Maryland District Court records, Tipton was arrested and charged with writing bad checks in 1995, but those charges were dropped.

Tipton has also been arrested and charged at least three times with second-degree burglary of commercial businesses, including a dry cleaners, an auto body shop and a deli. The disposition of those cases could not be determined yesterday.

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