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Break-in shutters W.Va. post office

October 12, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - U.S. Postal inspectors believe the Shepherdstown Post Office was broken into Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, forcing the building at the intersection of Washington and King streets to close for several hours Wednesday while investigators worked at the scene, a U.S. Postal official said.

Police said the break-in likely is related to three similar incidents that occurred overnight Tuesday.

Workers at the post office noticed that the building had been broken into when they arrived at work Wednesday about 6 a.m. , said U.S. Postal inspector Bruce Hammerle, who would not say where in the building the entry occurred.

There was a minimal amount of damage to the building and most of it was in the area where entry was made, Hammerle said.

"Obviously, there's a lot of mail (in the building) and at this point we haven't determined if any mail was taken," Hammerle said.

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The post office was closed for several hours Wednesday morning as part of the investigation, but was open by late Wednesday afternoon and was processing mail as of then, Hammerle said.

Investigators had not determined Wednesday whether a theft had occurred, but they classified the incident as a burglary, Hammerle said.

Burglary of a post office is a federal offense and the penalties can vary depending on the degree of theft from a post office, Hammerle said.

U.S. Postal inspectors from Clarksburg, W.Va., and Pittsburgh were sent to the post office for an investigation and they were being assisted by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department and the Shepherdstown Police Department, Hammerle said.

The post office burglary could be related to three other incidents, including one that began Wednesday before 6 a.m. when a cash register in the China Kitchen restaurant at King and German streets was pried open and cash was taken, said Patrolman Brad Dusek of the Shepherdstown Police Department.

The other two incidents included an attempted break-in at Jefferson Security Bank on Washington Street and a burglary at TLC Photography on W.Va. 45, Dusek said.

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