Break-ins at Berkeley County buildings investigated

October 27, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Days after a break-in at Berkeley County Magistrate Court, the county's main courthouse and adjacent annex building were broken into Monday night or Tuesday morning, police said.

Berkeley County Sheriff Randy Smith said the Tax Department tellers' cash drawers and small safes in the annex were broken into. He declined to say how much cash was taken because he said he did not know the exact figure.

The thief tried unsuccessfully to break into the building's larger bank vault, Smith said.

The annex building was formerly a bank.

At 4 p.m., handwritten signs on the annex building's front doors indicated the building was closed.

The main courthouse next door also was broken into, said Smith, who said he believes the hunting and fishing license department was entered. He referred further questions to the Martinsburg Police Department - the agency handling the investigation. Both of the buildings are within the city limits, at the intersection of King and Queen streets.


The investigating officer with the Martinsburg Police Department could not be reached Tuesday evening.

The latest break-in comes on the heels of a weekend burglary at Magistrate Court, a block away at the intersection of Queen and John streets.

Among the items taken from Magistrate Court was $85 collected to pay for a bouquet of flowers for Magistrate Joan Bragg, whose father died recently, court employees said.

The thief also took $45 in petty cash from the desk of Cynthia Graham, Magistrate Harry Snow's assistant. Items left behind in Snow's office included a CD player, a gift card given to Graham for her birthday and a dish and bag full of Halloween candy.

The glass pane to Magistrate Scott Paugh's office door was broken, as was a window and screen in the building's basement courtroom. It is believed the thief gained entry to the building through the courtroom window, Snow said.

The offices for Snow and Paugh are in the building's basement, where there are no security cameras.

None of the upstairs offices, where cameras are in place, were disturbed, court employees said.

Snow said police left his office covered in fingerprint powder and he believes prints were found on a fire extinguisher mounted in the hallway. The fire extinguisher might have been used to gain entry into the offices, said Snow, a former police officer.

The break-in at Magistrate Court happened Friday night or Saturday, employees there said.

Anyone with information may call the Martinsburg Police Department at 304-264-2100 or the anonymous Berkeley County Crime Solvers line at 304-267-4999.

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