(Feb. 13, 2015) Berlin Police charged three suspects Wednesday, two juveniles and one adult, in connection with the nighttime vandalism of more than 30 cars and three businesses in the downtown area on Jan. 25.
Ocean City resident Jordan Alexandria Denton, 18, and two Ocean Pines juveniles 16 and 18, were charged with 39 counts of malicious destruction with the damage total estimate at more than $11,000, and one count of theft valued at less than $100,000.
One of the juveniles was 17 at the time of the incident and thus was charged as a juvenile.
According to a Berlin Police Department press release issued Wednesday, the investigation revealed 36 separate victims, including the Town of Berlin, which had one vehicle, 10 electric meters and four trashcans damaged.
Three buildings and 33 additional cars were spray painted during the incident that spanned a dozen streets: Ann Court, Ann Drive, Branch Street, Buttercup Court, Harrison Ave, Henry’s Mill, Littleworth Court, North Main Street, Pitts Street, Powell Circle, West Street and William Street.
Police said victim statements, citizen tips, interviews and reviews of surveillance cameras led law enforcement to the suspects.
More than half of the original 15 persons of interest were eliminated following police interviews.
“We had a whole lot of people call in with different names and we had to go ahead and vet everyone one of those names,” Police Chief Arnold Downing said. “Once we get all these, ‘I think this person did it, I think this person was here,’ or whatever, then we go ahead and confirmed their alibis or where they were during the time frame in which the incident occurred.”
Downing added he was “quite certain we have everybody” involved in the incident.
No motivation is known and police said no additional information regarding the juveniles would be released to the public.
The majority of the spray paint on vehicles was removed with permanent damage, although a delivery truck parked behind Pitts Street still shows evidence of the incident. Police said all of the affected buildings have been repainted, meters replaced and trashcans have been removed.
The investigation lasted several weeks, partly because police had difficulty contacting all the victims and collecting damage assessments.
“We couldn’t charge someone if we didn’t have all the victims making contact with us, because [we need] the values in determining what we’re going to charge them with,” Downing said.
Downing said he was pleased with the investigation and praised his personnel, who logged hundreds of hours, as well as the community response to the incident.
“Every one of the tips were a great help,” Downing said. “It helped us build the case and put all of the puzzle pieces together. We checked all the videotapes from downtown that people allowed us to view, and it let us have images of where certain people were at certain times.
“All those sources were tools for us to go ahead and utilize,” Downing added.
Downing urged Berlin residents to remain vigilant, and to call police at the first sign of suspicions behavior.
“We just have to continue to pay attention to our surroundings,” Downing said. “We’re talking about a group of people coming in and going throughout town. A lot of people didn’t even look out their windows during that whole period of time.
“If you see anything suspicious go ahead and call right then and there,” Downing continued. “We had quite a few people who remembered things later on who, in the end, were helpful to us, but if they had called immediately we could have probably caught them a little bit quicker, or maybe even caught them in the act.”