Christina Hinkle and Jen Noel
Features Editor and Staff Reporter
What initially seemed like a random theft from the college bookstore on January 28, 2009, is now connected to a series of thefts performed by a group of young suspects who have targeted college bookstores in this region.
Details about the theft ring were outlined in a September 2008 “Intelligence Bulletin” released by The College of Notre Dame (Maryland). The bulletin announced that the college bookstore had been hit “a group of individuals stealing expensive text books.” The belief is that “the books are being sold online, to book exchange stores, and on other campuses” in exchange for money.
Because the investigation is ongoing, McDaniel College Bookstore Manager Kyle Meloche declined comment. Mike Webster, Director of Campus Safety, is also prohibited from detailed comment, but he cited information from the campus crime log.
“A suspect came in with an empty, orange backpack and had a conversation with the bookstore staff about a Linear Algebra book priced at $194 a piece,” said Webster.
“After the man left, the staff noticed that four copies of the textbook that he asked about were missing ? which is worth approximately $776,” Webster added. “We called the College of Notre Dame and independently, their staff identified the same suspect Kyle identified from a photo lineup.”
The case remains open, so photos and names of the suspects cannot be released.
Shortly after the robbery of The College of Notre Dame’s bookstore, two people, who authorities deemed accountable, were arrested. But several more members of the group are still participating in the trend, according to the bulletin.
The bulletin released additional information about the group:
They almost always operate with two or more people.
An empty back pack or duffle bag will be worn into the bookstore.
One suspect will occupy or distract the sales person while books are placed in a backpack by the other.
High dollar books are targeted; Chemistry, Biology, etc.
The suspects either pose as students of the school, or students at a Community College (Essex).
Their vehicle will be parked close by. On several occasions, a driver has remained with the vehicle.
It is unknown how many colleges have been targeted by the group. However, McDaniel, Towson and Notre Dame have been named with certainty.
Information or questions may be directed to Campus Safety at ext. 2202.