Police: ‘Method of operation’ key in arrest of alleged ‘rat burglar’

DOVER — It all began with a meeting.

An early January get-together in Dover of four police agencies from Delaware and Maryland was critical to the eventual arrest of a suspect dubbed the “rat burglar” after an investigation into multiple alleged burglaries in both states, authorities said.

Members of the law enforcement jurisdictions met after it was determined that Dover police and Prince George’s County (Md.) Sheriff’s Department were investigating a series of alleged burglaries similar in nature, spokesman Cpl. Mark Hoffman said.

11dsn Thomas K. Jenkins

Thomas K. Jenkins

A Dover Police Department Criminal Investigations Unit supervisor noticed a trend while reviewing a law enforcement information sharing site, authorities said.

City police were investigating 18 alleged commercial burglaries occurring between Sept. 14, 2014, and Feb. 5, according to officials.

Other authorities attending the early January meeting included officers from the Delaware State Police and Smyrna Police Department, Dover Police said.

A time line was established at the meeting, Cpl. Hoffman said, and law enforcement determined that a serial, multi-jurisdictional burglar was allegedly at work.

Police said a potential person of interest was determined by Prince George’s County police a few days afterward —

Thomas K. Jenkins, 49, of the 500 block of Cedarleaf Avenue in Capitol Heights, Md. He was subsequently taken into custody by Maryland police, Cpl. Hoffman said.

Mr. Jenkins is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Dover police said the alleged “method of operation” in both states was “clearly” the same, and investigators developed other information that may have linked a person to the Dover area.

“The cooperation and sharing of information between agencies in Delaware and Maryland were absolutely critical in (allegedly) solving this case and played a major role in doing so,” Cpl. Hoffman said.

Additionally Delaware State Police said pending charges against Mr. Jenkins include third-degree burglary, possession of burglar tools, wearing a disguise during the commission of a felony, possession of a firearm by person prohibited, 11 counts of theft of firearm and criminal mischief.

An investigation of an alleged burglary on Dec. 23, 2014, at Trinity Tactical USA LLC at 4435 Summit Bridge Road in Middletown was conducted, state police said.

Pending resolution of any charges in Maryland, Mr. Jenkins will face charges in Dover, Cpl. Hoffman said.

“It will be some time,” he said.

Dover Police detectives interviewed Mr. Jenkins in Maryland, authorities said.

Mr. Jenkins was dubbed an alleged serial “rat” burglar in a Dover Police news release “due to his (alleged) unique entry method of cutting holes through walls and roofs to make entry into buildings,” Cpl. Hoffman said.

With the number of charges involved — 72 alleged in the Dover case — and time involved investigating — 500 hours in surveillance — Cpl. Hoffman described the matter as significant and “a top priority case for some time.”

Police said no motive was determined on why Dover may have allegedly been targeted. Police said they are currently withholding public disclosure of evidence connected to the alleged burglaries.

Pending charges in Dover include:
• Wearing a disguise during commission of a felony (four counts)
• Third-degree burglary (18 counts)
• Possession of burglary tools (18 counts)
• Theft under $1,500 (14 counts)
• Criminal mischief (18 total counts/two felony level)

According to authorities, alleged burglaries in Dover were investigated at:
• Maple Dale Country Club
• Manlove Auto Parts
• Sovereign Properties
• Morgan Properties
• U and I Builders
• AMCO Check Cashing
• Colonial Investment
• 1st Capital Mortgage
• Advantage Travel
• Ancient Way Massage
• Tranquil Spirit Massage/Spa
• Christopher Asay Massage
• Morgan Communities
• Vincenzo’s Reastaurant
• Happy Fortune Chinese Restaurant
• Happy 13 Liquors
• Del-One Credit Union
• Pizza Time

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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