Charles A. Moss Jr. last saw his stepson about a week ago when Anthony Thomas stopped by the house where he grew up and where Moss still lives, a few blocks south of Pimlico Race Course.
"He was hustling," Moss said. "He wanted some money."
He said he gave his stepson "a couple bucks" and sent him on his way.
Thomas, 45, repeated this pattern every few weeks. He hadn't lived with Moss on Dupont Avenue in 25 years, and two relatives said they had no idea where Thomas spent most nights. Police and family said he's addicted to drugs.
"He needs help," said his brother, Timothy Thomas, who lives with Moss.
Anthony Thomas is now in jail, charged this week with breaking into a car belonging to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's husband and stealing a satellite radio. Police said the car had been left unlocked and was parked out of sight of the police officer who guards the mayor's North Baltimore home.
A police spokesman said Tuesday that the suspect told detectives he was hungry and needed money for drugs. The spokesman said Thomas told police he sold the radio for $10.
City officials have warned residents not to leave items in their cars to avoid theft, and articles last year documented cases much like Thomas' — mostly nonviolent offenders, addicted to drugs and looking for spare change or anything they can sell for few dollars.
Thomas' arrest record dates to the early 1980s and lists one charge of violence — using a deadly weapon — an allegation that prosecutors did not pursue in 2005. The other charges are of the kind more often associated with vagrancy — loitering, drug possession, open containers of alcohol, and being a rogue and vagabond.
Police charging documents on the various arrests appear repetitive, alleging that cops once caught him with three small bags of crack on Mosher Street; found him with 13 vials of drugs in a city park; saw him grab free vials called "testers" with a crowd of addicts on Boarman Avenue; arrested him trying to hide a single rock of crack cocaine under his tongue on Pimlico Road.
Court records show that the only time he spent behind bars was while awaiting trial or for violating probation. The stiffest sentences he received were six months suspended for drug possession and a year suspended for "rogue and vagabond," a charge that can include being in possession of burglary tools.
Moss said he met Anthony Thomas in the mid-1970s, when Thomas was 9 or 10 years old. Thomas, the youngest of four children, attended Edgecombe Elementary, around the corner from Dupont Avenue.
The stepfather, now estranged from Thomas' mother, said the boy was not an agreeable child; he enjoyed playing ball but hated to work. "He thought everybody owed him," Moss said.
Thomas has had addresses throughout the city and elsewhere, including in Richmond, Va., and an apartment on Riggs Avenue in West Baltimore. Police said they think he last lived in the 4000 block of W. Belvedere Ave.
His brother did not want to talk. He said he saw Anthony Thomas' mug shot on the television news and that "this is family business. We aren't giving out any information."
All Timothy Thomas would say was that his brother "needs help and we're getting a lot of bad information. Right now, we're just keeping it a little quiet."
The most recent police statistics show that 5,702 cars had been broken into through the end of October, a 10 percent drop from this time last year. One of those cars belongs to the mayor's husband, and if the cops arrested the right suspect, he certainly picked a vehicle that was sure to attract an aggressive police response.
Moss said he hopes it will attract help for his stepson as well.