OCEAN CITY – Ocean City police this week made two arrests in connection with a rash of burglaries in the resort, using the Internet and other cyber-savvy techniques to catch the perpetrators, who were setting up the thefts through their computers.
In early April, OCPD detectives were investigating multiple burglaries that had been carried out in the resort area since early January and began to notice several of the cases had similar characteristics and that in most of the cases, flat-screen televisions had been the target. During the investigation, detectives learned a common thread in the cases was that almost all of the properties burglarized were rental units listed on a real estate web page that provided a “virtual tour” of the property.
OCPD detectives began to believe whoever was responsible for the burglaries might be trying to sell the stolen items on the Internet. The detectives then conducted several Internet searches for similar items on popular sites such as craigslist.com, for example. As a result, resort detectives were able to obtain exact matches for the stolen items being offered for sale by individuals in the Baltimore County area.
OCPD detectives were able to track the craigslist.com sale postings by using the seller’s email address and were able to track the seller’s email address through myspace.com. Throughout the investigation, OCPD detectives exchanged emails with the suspects by acting as potential buyers for the stolen goods until they were able to positively identify the suspects as Nathan Christopher Scheufele, 22, and Allen Dale Garman, 34, both of Dundalk in Baltimore County.
Detectives this week traveled to Baltimore County to interview the suspects. During the interviews, police obtained confessions from Scheufele and Garman and also learned how the two carried out their scheme. According to police, Scheufele and Garman used the Internet to search for Ocean City area rental properties that had virtual tours available on the real estate web sites. Then, posing as prospective seasonal renters, the two would schedule an appointment to see the rental property. If the property contained the high-end items and was deemed an “easy target,” Scheufele and Garman would return later to the unoccupied units.
Detectives charged Scheufele and Garman for six separate burglaries and thefts totaling over $7,000.