Burglary at Bush rowhouse commands attention

Here's what happened when two mountain bikes were taken from the garage in South Baltimore of a former president's daughter:

A police officer responded, but so did a detective, a sergeant, a lieutenant, a major and a lieutenant colonel. The police commissioner — who had earlier criticized his own cops for not informing command when a television sports personality was attacked — was quickly called.

But a carful of police brass wasn't the only thing that Jenna Bush Hager and her husband got when at least one burglar broke into their garage in back of their South Charles Street rowhouse on Friday.

A crime scene technician dusted for fingerprints. The description of the two mountain bikes — a black-and-red Trek with dual suspension and a navy blue Trek — was given to officers monitoring hundreds of surveillance cameras. And the Regional Auto Theft Task Force was notified.

The attention for an otherwise routine burglary — one of 2,963 reported this year in the city through June 5 — did not sit well with many readers commenting on The Baltimore Sun's crime blog and in the newspaper's online comments.

"So all the police bosses come out of the woodwork, the crime lab shows up and all are having a hissy fit over this," read one comment.

"It's great to be the president's daughter," said another. "You can be sure the police would not be looking for your bike if it was stolen."

Added a third: "An intense search for stolen bicycles? Must be nice. My neighbor had a motor scooter stolen out of his garage about a year ago. City workers found it abandoned two days later. It sat in a city impound lot for SIX MONTHS. Not exactly an intense search for the property of non-presidents' kids."

Police do take seriously a break-in at the residence of the daughter of former President George W. Bush, who also is a city school teacher, an author and television host. Perhaps even more seriously than for other victims.

Part of that is celebrity status — police know this crime will get media attention. And part is that any breach of security around a close relative of a former president could be more than a random break-in. It could be a targeted threat, which authorities don't have to consider in most burglaries.

Bush-Hager no longer enjoys the protection of the Secret Service — agents were assigned to her when she first moved to South Baltimore in April 2008 — but city police said they notified the White House of the break-in.

Maj. Scott L. Bloodsworth, commander of the Southern District, said in an e-mail that he stopped by the burglary scene "because I was working and would anytime something occurs that may become media worthy."

The major is constantly driving about South Baltimore communities, and he often works into the early hours of the morning.

"I make it a point to check on everyone in my district to include those involved in government, community leaders, and yes even the media," he said in the statement. "… It is what it is and is unfortunate but the fact that it happened to them concerns me as much as it does when It happens to anyone else who lives in my district. Yes it's frustrating but I would imagine the feeling of being a victim of a property crime is the same if you live an any part of my district or the city."

The Baltimore Police Department's chief spokesman, Anthony Guglielmi, said that crime lab technicians routinely respond to burglaries to dust for fingerprints and officers watching surveillance cameras are told to watch out for stolen cars and other vehicles.

The spokesman said senior level commanders responded because "the call came out for a burglary at the home of a former president's daughter" and that high-ranking officials needed to be satisfied that the home wasn't targeted because of who owns it and lives there.

Maybe something good will come out of the attention. Maybe it will lead to an arrest and police will link the burglar or burglars to other break-ins in South Baltimore and Federal Hill. And maybe some of these other incidents that residents complain weren't take seriously will get resolved.

peter.hermann@baltsun.com

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