Vehicle break-in suspect is jailed
By Brent Curtis
STAFF WRITER | February 09,2013
A Rutland man charged with breaking into four locked cars to get at purses left inside was jailed on $10,000 bail Friday after denying nine misdemeanor charges.
Shawn M. Ritchie, 39, pleaded innocent to eight unlawful mischief and petty larceny charges related to what city police describe as “smash and grab” vehicle break-ins in downtown Rutland this week. He also denied a misdemeanor charge of retail theft Friday for allegedly trying to steal two pair of pants from TJ Maxx.
Setting $10,000 bail in a case involving misdemeanor charges is unusual — even in a case involving nine offenses.
But in arguments made in court, Deputy State’s Attorney Kevin Klamm said Ritchie’s long criminal history, his acknowledged addiction to heroin and his conduct after his arrest Monday made him a risk to flee.
“His mental state is a concern,” Klamm said. “After failing to appear for his arraignment on Wednesday he was arrested in the commission of another crime.”
The prosecutor asked that bail be set at $5,000. Judge William Cohen doubled that amount to $10,000.
“All of these allegations seem to relate to the same type of behavior,” the judge said.
According to city police, the first car break-in was reported Sunday afternoon in the American Legion parking area at the corner of Washington and Court streets. They continued Monday with three similar reports in the afternoon from women who parked on Court Street, Merchants Row and Center Street.
All of the thefts were carried out the same way, police said, with either the driver’s window or passenger window broken and purses left inside the locked vehicles stolen.
After his arrest Monday afternoon, Ritchie allegedly told police he used his fist to break the windows and he had a cut on his hand that he said was a result of smashing the glass.
The purses were all recovered soon after the thefts, but none were in Ritchie’s possession.
One was found in a men’s bathroom inside the Community College of Vermont building on West Street. One was found in the bathroom at the Rutland Free Library. A woman found another left on an elevator inside the Transit Center on West Street, and Ritchie allegedly told police the fourth could be found under a set of steps on Cottage Street.
In two cases, police said, video surveillance captured images of Ritchie entering and leaving the areas where the purses were discarded.
Money, checks and other items were reported missing from the purses — some of which police said they found on Ritchie when he was found walking on Court Street on Monday afternoon.
Police said in an affidavit that Ritchie confessed to the thefts, apologized for them, and promised to make amends for the damage he caused.
Ritchie, who was released on a citation after his arrest, came to court Wednesday for his scheduled arraignment, Public Defender Robb Spensley told the court Friday. But after waiting for about three hours, Ritchie left, Spensley said.
That prompted the court to order a warrant for his arrest. But before police could find him Thursday, Ritchie allegedly tried to leave TJ Maxx in downtown Rutland wearing two pairs of pants he didn’t pay for.
“In the office he denied having anything, but I could see down by his shoe the bottom of the (store’s) pants from under his pants,” Richard Durham, a security officer for TJ Maxx, told police.