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Theft Description In Body Of Article in RED

Thursday, December 02, 2010


Police say man traveled to steal from colleges
UGA laptops found after Ill. arrest
Published Thursday, December 02, 2010

A man who broke into a University of Georgia classroom last week and stole seven laptop computers was caught two days later breaking into a building on a University of Southern Illinois campus, authorities said.

USI police officers searched 70-year-old Ronald Blake Hill's motel room in Carbondale, Ill., on Nov. 24 and found laptops reported stolen from UGA the day before, according to police Sgt. Dave Stewart, a Criminal Investigations supervisor for USI police.
Officers also found a set of Ohio State University keys in the motel room, leading USI and UGA police to believe Hill traveled from state to state stealing from universities.
"I think this guy is a career criminal," Stewart said. "Given dates he was here and at the University of Georgia, he was targeting places based on him knowing most universities would be closed during Thanksgiving break."
The recovered computers were stolen during a burglary at UGA's Caldwell Hall the Monday before Thanksgiving, UGA police said.
The thief somehow got into the building without breaking in, but he broke into a classroom where he took six laptops and a nearby office where he found another, according to UGA police, who said the computers were worth $4,500.
Shortly before 1 a.m. Nov. 24, Hill set off an alarm on USI's Carbondale campus as he tried to break into the Life Science building, Stewart said.
When officers searched Hill's rental car from Florida, they found a key card to a Carbondale motel room, where the UGA laptops were stashed, Stewart said.
Hill was booked into the Jackson County Jail in Murphysboro, Ill., on charges of burglary, possession of burglary tools and criminal trespass to state property.
Hill wasn't wanted by any other law enforcement agency at the time, so jail officials released Hill on a $75,000 bond, Stewart said.
Even though Illinois officials booked Hill under the name and age that was on his South Carolina driver's license, USI police believe that is an alias, that he is in his mid- to late-60s and lives in Northern Florida, according to Stewart.
Hill has a history of burglary convictions in at least two states - Georgia and New York - and he also had a New York driver's license.
A UGA investigator will check to see if Hill is connected to any unsolved crimes on campus and take out warrants charging him with stealing the laptops and any other thefts the investigation uncovers, UGA police Chief Jimmy Williamson said.
While students report laptop thefts all the time, it's unusual for multiple school-owned computers to be stolen in a single burglary, he said.
"The way he committed the burglary and quickly moved out of the area to be caught committing another university burglary a day and a half later raised my interest," Williamson said. "We're going to look at any theft where we lost more than more than two computers at a time."
There's a thriving black market for stolen laptops, according to Williamson, who said UGA computers have been sold over the Internet through services like eBay and Craigslist, and some even have been shipped overseas.
"We've caught individuals in the past who have gone from university to university to commit burglary and theft because they understand the higher-education environment - how open it is, how it's easy to blend in, and that there's a lot of technology" to steal, Williamson said.
Originally published in the Athens Banner-Herald on Thursday, December 02, 2010

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