Prints Help Cops Nab Burglar

OCEAN CITY – A Pennsylvania man was arrested on several counts of burglary and malicious destruction of property last weekend after bloody fingerprints and a shoe print on one of the victim’s kicked-in door connected him to a pair of downtown break-ins.

Around 6:30 p.m. last Saturday, OCPD officers responded to Caroline Street for a burglary reported by a property owner who had just returned to his residence for the first time since Easter. The victim told police it appeared his residence had been broken into and walked inside, closed an open refrigerator and put away some disheveled items before realizing a perpetrator could still be inside. The victim then immediately exited the premises and called police.

The investigation revealed a window inside a screened-in porch had been broken and the front door stood open. The officers went inside and found a television on and a refrigerator opened with some of the contents strewn around the house. Officers also discovered a black duffle bag and a black backpack in the unit that did not belong to the owner.

The officers also noticed what appeared to be blood smeared at different locations around the house where the suspect had apparently been looking for valuables. After securing the residence on Caroline Street, the officers went next door where similar evidence of a break-in was revealed.

At that residence, officers noticed a clear shoe print near the doorknob of the front door, which was standing open. Inside, officers found the residence had been clearly rummaged through although the property owner, who was contacted and brought to the scene, said it did not appear anything was missing.

With bloody fingerprints at one crime scene and a clear shoe print at the other, OCPD detectives brought in the forensic unit to begin processing the evidence. Meanwhile, the initial officers went through the backpack and duffle bag found in the first burglarized apartment and found DVDs, currency and other items belonging to the first victim.

A short time later, OCPD Communications received a call from a Jeffery E. Hughes who wanted to make a report of stolen property. The officers on scene at Caroline Street had found a resume in the black backpack with the name Jeffery Hughes on it and began to put the evidence together.

Another officer responded to North Division Street to handle Hughes’ theft report and was joined by one of the officers from the nearby Caroline Street crime scenes. Hughes told police he had gone in a store to buy a six-pack of beer and when he came out, his property had been stolen by a couple of guys.

However, while police were taking Hughes’ report, they noticed he did not have any beer on him. They also noticed he had dried blood on his hand and wrist, and when they questioned him about it to see if he was okay, he revealed a fresh wound on his wrist. As they continued to question Hughes, police noticed fresh tears on his jacket in the area of his waistline.

According to police reports, when Hughes was first questioned, he was polite and cooperative, but when the officers asked him about the cut and the tears to his jacket, he became quiet and uncooperative. Based on the cut and tears to his clothing consistent with the broken window at the Caroline Street crime scene, and the fact that his belongings were found in one of the burglarized residences, Hughes was arrested and taken into custody.

After the arrest, officers matched Hughes’ shoes to the shoe print on the door of the second burglarized unit. He was charged with several counts of burglary, malicious destruction and making a false statement to an officer.