Illegal Gun Sale Leads To Arrests In Vehicle Theft Spree

Illegal Gun Sale Leads To Arrests In Vehicle Theft Spree
12 16 16 GunDrugs Arrests 282x350

OCEAN CITY — An illegal gun sale carried out by undercover Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officers led allied law enforcement agencies to arrest four suspects in connection with a rash of vehicle break-ins and thefts from vehicles across much of northern Worcester County this week.

On Tuesday, detectives from the OCPD Criminal Investigation Division and the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Enforcement Team initiated an investigation in Bennett Thomas McNeil III, 26, of Ocean City in reference to the illegal sale of a .22 caliber Smith and Wesson revolver. The investigation revealed McNeil had stolen the revolver from a vehicle in West Ocean City and was attempting to sell it.

OCPD detectives working in an undercover capacity contacted McNeill and arranged a meeting to purchase the revolver later that evening. When McNeil arrived at the designated meeting place at Sunset Drive and Philadelphia Avenue, he was immediately arrested along with three others who were in the vehicle at the time of the incident. Others arrested included Arno Arndt, 57, of Snow Hill; Patricia Miller, 52, of Bishopville; and Jenna Vermillion, 24, of Ocean City.

OCPD officers then contacted the Maryland State Police and the Ocean Pines Police Department, who were both investigating multiple thefts from vehicles. Throughout the week, local law enforcement agencies were investigating a rash of as many as 200 thefts from vehicle cases across much of northern Worcester County.

Detectives conducted interviews and follow-up investigations, which led to a search warrant being executed at a residence in West Ocean City. As a result of the search warrant, the four suspects were linked to a number of thefts from other vehicles in the Ocean City, West Ocean City, Ocean Pines and Glen Riddle areas.

McNeil and Arndt have been charged with illegal possession of a firearm, illegal possession of ammunition, possession of a stolen regulated firearm, possessing a handgun in a vehicle and possessing a handgun on a person. Miller and Vermillion have been charged with possession of heroin and possession of paraphernalia.

In the meantime, Worcester County Bureau of Investigation (WCBI) detectives recovered several dozen ladies’ purses and wallets that were allegedly taken by the suspects from unlocked vehicles across much of northern Worcester County. However, the purses and wallets had no identification in them. As a result, WCBI detectives are asking for the public’s help in identifying the victims. Anyone who has been a victim of theft from their vehicle is urged to contact the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office at  (410) 632-1111, or the Maryland State Police at (410) 641-3101 to report the thefts as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, practically every law enforcement agency in the north end of Worcester County is reporting a spike in the number of thefts from vehicles although it is uncertain if the cases are related. In Ocean Pines for example, police are currently investigating a total of 15 cases. The thefts have occurred in South Ocean Pines in the King Richard, Camelot and Robin Hood areas, as well as in north Ocean Pines in the areas of Sandyhook and Birdsnest. In each case, the thefts were from unlocked vehicles and it appears money and electronics have been the targets.

Ocean Pines Police are reminding residents to be extra vigilant in locking their vehicles and to report any suspicious activity. Anyone with information on the cases in Ocean Pines is asked to contact Detective Tish Ottey at (410) 641-7747.

The Maryland State Police are also advising area residents there has been an increase in vehicle tampering and thefts from vehicles along with reports of both residential and commercial burglaries. The MSP Berlin barrack is urging residents to lock their vehicles and home doors, keep exterior lights on and activate alarm systems when available. Again, the MSP is urging residents to report any suspicious activity immediately without delay to their local police department

About The Author: Shawn Soper

Alternative Text

Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.