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Ag Expo struck by crime

July 24, 2007|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Someone tried to crack open an ATM at the Washington County Ag Expo & Fair over the weekend and three vendors' trailers were broken into, according to police and an expo official.

The would-be thief didn't get any money but caused about $8,000 worth of damage to two trailers, Washington County Sheriff's Department Deputy 1st Class Arnold Cerezo said.

He said it looks like all of the crimes were connected.

It's probably the first crime at the expo since it started about 25 years ago, said Bill Shelton, treasurer of Washington County Agricultural Organization, which runs the expo.

The expo is at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center, south of Hagerstown. This year, it started July 19 and runs through July 27.

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Shelton said this also was the first time the expo had automatic teller machines. A company brought in two - one outside, in a pavilion near the track, and one inside the exhibition hall.

At about 6 a.m. Sunday, a maintenance worker noticed damage to the ATM near the track.

Shelton said someone pulled off a front door on the ATM but couldn't open a combination safe. Other parts of the machine were damaged, too.

Shelton said he called the sheriff's department to investigate.

A short time later, a food vendor found that the door of his trailer had been forced open, Shelton said. He asked the sheriff's department to come back.

Break-ins also were discovered at two other food vendors' trailers.

In at least one case, a padlock was cut, Shelton said.

In two trailers, the intruder might have left empty-handed after seeing that the cash registers inside were empty, Cerezo said.

The third trailer was packed tight with merchandise, which might have made it hard to get far inside, Cerezo said.

One of the food vendors decided the next day to take his trailer home instead of leaving it there overnight, Shelton said.

He said the break-ins probably happened after 1 a.m. Sunday, when Washington County Agricultural Organization board members left after Saturday night's tractor pull, Shelton said.

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