EPD: Alert resident helps bust shed burglars
— An alert citizen on his way to work tipped investigators off to a series of burglaries in the White Hall area over the weekend, leading to the capture of two suspects, police reported.
About 3 a.m. Saturday, a passerby noticed a pickup truck sitting outside of a home in the 100 block of Roosevelt Boulevard with its lights on and a lawn mower sitting next to it, according to a state of probable cause filed by Ofc. Shannon Comley in the case. Thinking that was suspicious due to the early morning hour, the man pulled over to investigate.
As he was checking out the unattended vehicle and lawn mower, a woman wearing all black walked from the side yard of the home, Comley reported. Upon confronting her, the woman hastily told the passerby that she had purchased the lawn mower, but then got in the truck and drove off.
The good Samaritan called 911 and reported the suspicious circumstances and provided a partial license plate number, which the Elkton Police Department issued in a be-on-the-lookout bulletin to patrolling law enforcement.
Minutes later, another Elkton police officer stopped the pickup truck on southbound Route 213 and identified Rachel Lianne Thomas, 32, as the driver, Comley reported. In the bed of the truck was a collection of nearly a dozen power tools and equipment, with some items being covered in cobwebs “as if they had been sitting in an enclosed area,
such as a shed, for some time,” Comley reported.
After recording information of the power tools and informing Thomas that she was being detained, the suspect told investigators that her boyfriend, Joseph Fontana, 30, was the one to blame, Comley reported. When asked where he was, Thomas said she was not sure because she left him quickly at the scene of the burglary.
Investigators had Thomas call Fontana, and she was able to ascertain his approximate location in the White Hall neighborhood. Officers were then able to locate him in the area, hiding between homes, along with numerous more power tools left behind as the pair fled, Comley reported.
Several residential sheds in the area were found to have been pried open and their contents stolen by the duo, Comley reported. Some of those homeowners were able to retrieve their property while other unclaimed pieces remain with the Elkton Police Department.
Back at the police station, Thomas provided a state- ment to police saying that she and Fontana came into Elkton for the purpose of burglarizing sheds. Fontana allegedly chose the targeted area due to its dimly lit surroundings. He would break into the sheds while Thomas waited with the getaway vehicle, Comley reported. In total, the equipment stolen from the homes was valued at about $1,750.
Thomas and Fontana are both charged with two counts of second-degree burglary, two counts of theft under $1,000 and three counts of malicious destruction of property under $1,000. She remained committed at the Cecil County Detention Center as of Tuesday evening in lieu of $100,000 bail, while he remained on $75,000.