Burglaries at courses in five counties in the state’s Eastern Shore region are leading investigators to believe the thieves are casing targets ahead of time and cutting phone lines to disable alarm systems, gain entry and take cash.
A break-in at Eagle’s Landing Golf Course in Berlin, Md., on August 3 marked the latest in a slew of course thefts on the Eastern Shore of Maryland that police believe are related. While a door had been broken at Eagle’s Landing, no cash was stolen—but other courses haven’t been as lucky, the Delmarva Daily Times reports.
Police are investigating thefts at courses in five counties, believing that each crime was undertaken by the same group of people. Police believe the thieves are casing their targets ahead of time and then breaking in in the middle of the night by cutting phone lines to disable the alarm system, gain entry and take cash, the Daily Times reports.
“It’s definitely the same crew,” said detective Alex Kagan with the Worcester County (Md.) Bureau of Investigation. “It’s an organized crew of people. It’s a consistent pattern: method of entry, evidence of surveillance. It’s not just random break-ins.”
While police could not estimate how much money has been stolen thus far, they did say that apparel was stolen only once and there have been no reports of stolen sporting goods, the Daily Times reports.
The first reported break-in occurred on March 19 at Hog Neck Golf Course in Easton, Md. Because the culprits knew where the phone lines were, investigators believed the incident was an inside job. Not long after, thieves burglarized The Easton (Md.) Club.
“At first, I thought it was, OK, somebody broke in and stole some money,” Kagan said. “It seemed more like an isolated incident. But then they went to the other side of the county, [and] we realized there’s something more to it.”
On July 7, thieves stole money from a safe at Nutter’s Crossing Golf Course in Salsbury, Md.; that incident was followed by a July 16 theft that resulted in a broken sliding glass door at Caroline Country Club in Denton, Md.
On August 2, three Worcester County courses were targeted: Deer Run Golf Club and The Bay Club, both in Berlin, Md., and Nassawango Country Club in Snow Whill, Md., the Daily Times reports.
“After the first two, we contacted all the golf courses in Worcester County [saying] that we had two that were broken into [and to] use every security measure that you can,” said Detective Sgt. Mike Lupiwok with the Worcester CBI.
Police are urging golf courses to use a cellular backup of their alarm systems in the event that a land line is taken out of commission, and not to keep large amounts of cash on the premises, the Daily Times reported.
“It’s not going to surprise me when we find out who these people are that at least one of them has a link to the golf industry,” said Kagan. “The fact that they’re targeting a golf course speaks to something.”