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One charged, another sought in parking meter thefts

September 10, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Martinsburg man charged Tuesday in the theft of 52 city parking meters told police that he used the change from the meters to buy "drugs and food and stuff," according to allegations in court records.

William Kenneth Winfield, 22, of 218 E. King St., was charged with one felony count of grand larceny. Martinsburg Parking Authority officials estimated the loss to the city, including costs of replacing the meters, at $14,180, records show.

Martinsburg Police Detective Sgt. George Swartwood said 52 meters were pried off and removed from poles, and change was taken from 27 others. On Monday, police found 51 of the meter heads in the Potomac River near a boat ramp.

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The thefts, which started June 17, ended at around 6:15 a.m. Tuesday when a witness spotted a man breaking into meters on John Street, records show. She described him to police and said he was on a bike.

When police went to the area, they found Winfield, who matched the woman's description, riding a bicycle. He had a metal pick with him, records allege.

After Winfield's girlfriend gave police consent to search their apartment, officers found 16 parking meter coin containers, eight metal clips for the containers, three small bags of coins that had $24.20 inside, a cordless drill and a steel punch, records allege.

Winfield told officers where they could find some of the items, police said.

Winfield told officers he had been keeping the meter heads underneath a tarp in his backyard, but was afraid his landlord would find them. He then dumped them in the river, police said.

An arrest warrant has been issued charging a second man, identified as David Jonathan Smeltzer, 21, also of 218 E. King St., with grand larceny. Police were trying to find him Tuesday.

On an affidavit requesting a public defender, Winfield indicated he does not have a job. He listed his monthly expenses, including rent and bills, at $775 a month and said he has a 3-year-old daughter.

Winfield was being held Tuesday in Eastern Regional Jail on $15,000 bail.

Conviction on a charge of grand larceny carries a sentence of one to 10 years in prison.

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