July 23, 2014
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (left) and D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray have been guarded about the D.C. Council's move to gain budget autonomy for the District through a referendum.

Campus Notebook: Capitol Burglaries Fit Recent Pattern

Office Thefts Not Rare, 5-Year Records Show

House Members and staffers are experiencing what feels like an unprecedented rash of thefts in their Capitol Hill offices.

What Capitol Police statistics show, however, is that office thefts have always been somewhat of a problem.

At Roll Call's request, Capitol Police spokeswoman Lt. Kimberly Schneider provided the number of reported thefts from offices across the Capitol campus in the same one-month period - Aug. 24 to Sept. 24 - over the past five years. The numbers show that each year had its share of burglaries, with the most occurring in 2011 and 2010.

"It's disconcerting ... but over the years there are going to be thefts," said Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer, who has a decade of institutional knowledge. "It hasn't been rampant, but when you have 10,000 employees or more in the House and Senate, and 3 million people walking through the buildings, crime is liable to happen."

For additional context, Schneider said that in many cases one individual was ultimately connected to multiple office thefts.

"One defendant was arrested and charged with six other cases that were closed out," she said. "Another defendant was charged with six cases that were closed, and a third defendant was tied to four separate theft cases."

The recent burglaries in House Members' offices suggest the same person could be behind each one: Each robbery has occurred at night, conducted by someone with keys to the offices, and  the stolen goods have been mostly personal items with some collectors' value.

Schneider's statistics don't indicate which offices were targeted and what was taken; individuals whose belongings have been ransacked have to disclose that information themselves.

But the numbers do provide a breakdown of how many thefts occurred in what buildings and how Capitol Police classified the incidents. 

"Theft I" is the classification used when the value of stolen goods exceeds $1,000, and "Theft II" is used when the value falls below that threshold.

From Aug. 24 to Sept. 24 of this year, four thefts were reported. Three Theft II burglaries occurred in the Rayburn House Office Building. Two of the offices burgled are occupied by Reps. Elton Gallegly (R-Calif.) and Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.). One Theft I incident occurred in the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

During this same time frame in 2011, there were a total of nine burglaries in Capitol Hill offices. Four took place in Dirksen, one of which had a Theft I classification. The other Theft II incidents took place in the Rayburn and Longworth office buildings, the Hart Senate Office Building, the James Madison Building of the Library of Congress and the Capitol itself.

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