When the burglaries got to be too much, the residents e-mailed the mayor. They kept each other informed of crime in the neighborhood. And in the end, it was an alert resident who called 911 after seeing a man prowling the rooftops of a South Baltimore neighborhood.
Patrol officers arrived and arrested the man. As detectives interrogated him, the man admitted, police said yesterday, committing seven burglaries in nine days in and around Federal Hill and Locust Point from late last month to early this month.
Jack Baker, president of the Southern District Community Relations Council, a community organization that works closely with police and residents, said residents were outraged. "This guy had everyone on the peninsula upset," he said.
Police arrested Christopher Cook, 30, of the 500 block of E. Clement St., on Sept. 2 and charged him with attempted burglary and drug possession.
He is suspected in other crimes, police said, that range from the theft of a car to the pilfering of iPods and laptops, all to fuel a drug habit.
Of particular concern for police and residents: Most of the burglaries occurred in the evening, when people were home.
"We really don't get a lot of nighttime burglaries of occupied dwellings when people are sleeping," said Lt. Jon Foster, an area commander for city detectives. "But we knew there was someone around [in the Southern District]. The officers were put on notice. A citizen did call in for a prowler, and they immediately got there, and [a suspect] was apprehended."
Police said that the burglar entered homes through locked and unlocked windows and doors in rear alleys. In one case, keys to a BMW were stolen but later recovered. In another incident, a Volkswagen Passat was stolen and later recovered.
Foster said that detectives are checking pawn shops and comparing fingerprint records from other burglaries to see if there is a connection to more cases.
Baker and others cheered the arrest, but they were also looking ahead. Police in the Southern District informed the community that four known burglars were recently released from prison and returning to their neighborhoods, he said.