University of Maryland Police arrested 60-year-old David Lawrence Bates of Washington, D.C., in April on 68 counts of theft in connection with a nearly year-long spree of credit card-related thefts in this university’s public health school.
From May 2016 to April of this year, Bates — who is unaffiliated with this university — committed eight separate theft offenses in the public health school, said University Police spokeswoman Rosanne Hoaas.
Though theft is the most reported crime on the campus, University Police noticed a clear pattern in the cases. In each offense, a male employee of this university placed their belongings in the public health school building. Upon returning, each man found their credit cards, and in some cases their cash, stolen, according to Hoaas. Unauthorized charges have been made on every stolen card.
Seven of the victims also reported that their locks on their lockers in the building had been cut or broken. Often, the pry marks were so small that victims didn’t even realize until after the fact, Hoaas said. People who use the lockers need to bring their own locks.
“In these cases, what we were seeing is that some were secured and some were not,” Hoaas said. “You want to secure a locker with the best means possible. So when you use a key lock, that is a challenge for the person versus a combo lock, those are a little bit easier to manipulate to the point where you can pry open a locker.”
Detectives caught a break while investigating the seventh case, which occurred Nov. 1. The patrol officer who responded to the scene processed the locker for evidence by dusting for fingerprints. The officer submitted the fingerprints for processing.
In February, University Police were notified that the fingerprint matched Bates, whom investigators were able to identify as the suspect in the November case and other theft cases from the public health school.
“Getting a hit back, that is awesome for us and for our community to know that things like this do happen where we do get arrests, even though the span of cases starts back in May of last year all the way to March of this year,” Hoaas.
In April, officers received a search warrant for Bates’ residence, where “items of evidentiary value” were seized, Hoaas said.
Bates will be tried on 68 different counts of theft, including 47 counts of credit card-related theft and 14 counts of identity-related theft, Hoaas said. His final sentencing will remain unknown until the case goes to court. University Police do not know when the case will go to court, Hoaas said.
Hoaas said cases of such length and volume are unprecedented for University Police.
“I can’t think of a time where we had charged someone for such a span of cases,” Hoaas said. “It ranges from using and disclosing a signature, credit card stealing and fraud identity, theft less than $100, a destruction of property charge and theft less than $1000. Each case probably has anywhere from 8 to 12 charges.”
University Police do not currently have a photo of Bates on file.