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Police suspect burglary ring

December 24, 2004|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

TRI-STATE - Police in two states said Thursday they've arrested five people in connection with a widening daytime burglary ring.

Estimating the number of cases possibly linked in Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia in the last several weeks, Investigator Greg Alton of the Washington County Sheriff's Department said, "Fifty burglaries is not stretching it."

Alton said the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is helping to investigate.

The five people arrested, from two families, have been charged in seven of the burglaries.

The Washington County Sheriff's Department on Friday charged Jerry Wayne Wilt Jr., 27, and Bradley Allen Wilt, 23, of Kearneysville, W.Va., with breaking into a Hancock home.

On Monday, Pennsylvania State Police filed six burglary counts against Wade Holmes, 18, of Ridge Road, Shenandoah Junction, W.Va.; Harvey Wilt, 24, of Kearneysville; and Stephen Holmes, 18, of Putter Drive, near Hagerstown.

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Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Eric Guyer said Wade Holmes, Stephen Holmes and Harvey Wilt are charged with burglarizing six homes in the Roxbury area in northern Franklin County that same day.

Guyer said a woman reported seeing three men on a neighbor's property at about 9 a.m. and got a description of their vehicle.

The woman then did some errands and came back about an hour later to find her house had been burglarized, Guyer said.

As police responded to that call, another burglary report came in. Police stopped a vehicle matching the earlier description and arrested Wade Holmes, Stephen Holmes and Harvey Wilt, Guyer said.

Police later heard of four other burglaries that had been committed in that neighborhood the same morning, Guyer said.

The stolen items included rifles, Christmas presents, a video game system and movies, as well as cash and change, Guyer said. He estimated their value at $3,000 to $4,000.

Guyer said the three Wilts are brothers. Stephen Holmes - who was home on leave from the U.S. Navy - and Wade Holmes are cousins, Guyer said.

Charging documents allege that Bradley and Jerry Wilt broke into a home on Hollow Road in Hancock on Friday and stole a video game system, a game, a craft book, a fishing pole, a camouflage bag with flashlights, a Christmas ornament, marble games and a bottle of vodka.

The craft book, marble games and ornament were wrapped Christmas gifts, charging documents say.

The documents allege that Wade Holmes told police that Bradley and Jerry Wilt taught him their method.

"Holmes explained that Brad and Jerry would drive around and look for houses where there were no vehicles parked," charging documents say. "Brad or Jerry would then walk up to the house and knock on the door. Holmes stated if somebody answered the door, they would ask for directions, however if nobody answered the door, they would then break into the house, usually by kicking in a door."

The Washington County Sheriff's Department arrested Bradley and Jerry Wilt at the Hillside Hotel in Sandy Hook after getting a tip that they were staying there, charging documents say.

Bradley and Jerry Wilt each were charged with first-degree burglary, fourth-degree burglary, theft over $500, conspiracy to commit theft over $500 and conspiracy to commit first-degree burglary.

Both were being held Thursday evening at the Washington County Detention Center. Bradley Wilt's bond was set at $200,000 and Jerry Wilt's bond at $75,000.

Harvey Wilt and Wade and Stephen Holmes each were charged with six counts of burglary, five counts of theft, one count of conspiracy to commit burglary and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia, Guyer said.

They were each sent to Franklin County Prison on $100,000 bond, he said.

A prison employee said Thursday evening that all three defendants were being held there.

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