On February 18, 2014, the Ocean City Police Department reported a rash of burglaries in Ocean City, Maryland, this winter. The thieves are targeting flat screen televisions in vacant houses, condominiums and trailers. The burglaries have occurred between 120th Street and the Delaware line. Of course, Ocean City has a plethora of vacant homes during the off-season that are easy targets for burglars. Usually, the most valuable and portable property left in these vacant homes for the winter are flat screen televisions. No suspects in the break-ins have been identified.
There was a similar rash of burglaries several winters ago in Ocean City. The Ocean City Police Department identified the individuals involved in that theft ring during an undercover drug investigation. Several persons were prosecuted for burglary and theft as a result of that investigation. Those defendants were sentenced to either short periods of incarceration or probation and ordered to pay restitution to the victims. The maximum penalty for 1st degree burglary in Maryland is 20 years in prison.
The Ocean City Police Department reminds citizens to continue to remain vigilant for suspicious activity. Any citizen leaving the area for any extended period of time is encouraged to take advantage of the "Residential Security Check" program. This free program is available to all Ocean City homeowners. By providing OCPD with basic information regarding their property, the OCPD will conduct security checks at random times each day. For more information and to sign up for a "Residential Security Check," visit http://oceancitymd.gov/Police/securitycheck.html.
A more common type of "burglary" in Ocean City during the peak summer months are cases that involve visitors becoming intoxicated and entering the wrong condominium unit or hotel room by mistake. These types of incidents usually result in a 4th degree burglary and a trespass charge (both misdemeanors). However, occasionally there is a physical confrontation with the occupant or damage to property. The police may also just infer that the suspect entered the residence with the intent to commit a theft or crime of violence. These scenarios can result in a 3rd degree burglary or 1st degree burglary charge (both felonies). In order to obtain a felony burglary conviction the State must prove that the defendant intended to commit a crime when he entered the residence. Therefore, the defendant in the "wrong room" scenario can defend himself on the basis that he did not intend to commit a crime when he gained entry to the residence. Voluntary intoxication may also be a defense to the felony burglary if the Defendant was so intoxicated when he mistakenly entered the wrong residence that he could not form the intent to commit a crime.