By Maegan Clearwood
After a careful eight-month investigative collaboration between Washington College Public Safety and the Kent Bureau of Investigation, three suspects have been charged with breaking into seven dorm buildings last winter break.
According to Howard Eveland, detective with the Kent Bureau of Investigation, two of the suspects charged are adults, and one is a juvenile. All three are residents of Kent County and two are from Chestertown. The team is still looking for two or three other individuals from the video footage of the break-ins.
Public Safety opened the investigation on Dec. 24, 2010 after an officer noticed items on the ground outside of a dorm room window. After identifying more potential crime scenes, the Chestertown Police Department joined the investigation.
According to PS Director Jerry Roderick, around 19 rooms were burglarized from seven buildings. All of the thefts were in first-floor rooms, and damage to doors and windows amounted to $2,500, according to district court records.
“It was very time-consuming to put together list of victims and stolen items. It was complicated by the sheer number of rooms that were broken into,” Roderick said. “When students leave for break, half of the rooms look like they’ve been broken into anyway, so it was pretty difficult.”
The team had to sift through 48 hours of video footage from more than 15 cameras.
“By luck, someone was given one of the stolen items. We verified it was from the College. We know him and who he hung out with and we worked the line from there,” Eveland said.
This August, charges were filed against the suspects, who were already incarcerated for other crimes.
Although relieved that three of the individuals are no longer a threat, the investigation is far from over.
“It’s still ongoing. Maybe we can get one or two more,” Eveland said. “We’re going back through things for any evidence that we can use to find the other ones.”
Meanwhile, Roderick said PS will contact the student victims, who may be subpoenaed as the trials go underway.
“It’s a lot of people, so it’s potentially very time-consuming to prep them for appearances,” Roderick said. “The individuals posed a threat to the community, so we’re very thankful they’ve been apprehended.”
As the investigation continues, PS is staying busy re-evaluating its holiday procedures.
“We are making adjustments to the way that we secure and monitor campus buildings,” he said. “Students are reminded to keep blinds closed, remove the smaller valuables and make sure all window and door locks are secured before leaving for the break. This is a good time to check your window locks and report any problems you may encounter securing the windows. Our buildings and grounds staff will respond to any reports of trouble with these devices.”