HAMPSTEAD, Md. - A crime spree than spanned eight weeks in Carroll County has ended with the arrests of five teenagers.
Police say the teens amassed more than a hundred victims and did more than $20,000 in damage.
An alert Hampstead police officer, Russell Halterman, is credited with stopping the two months of mayhem with a routine traffic stop.
The officer recently spotted a black Volkswagon Jetta in Hampstead's Oakmont Green neighborhood, and the teens inside it were acting suspicious.
Later, he spotted the same car racing out of the neighborhood and stopped it for speeding when reports came in of shattered windshields a few blocks away.
Dispatchers with the Carroll County Sheriff's Office then advised the officer that a car fitting that same description had been seen leaving several neighborhoods over the last two months where dozens of victims had reported vandalism.
"The Carroll County Sheriff's Office received reports on an almost weekly basis from more than 65 residents where vehicles had been damaged, tires slashed, JEEP tops cut, unlocked vehicles that had been entered and more than $5,000 worth of property removed all the way up through the end of September," said Major Phil Kasten.
The five juveniles range in age from 15 to 16 years old and are North Carroll High School students.
They are charged with damaging 129 cars, including more than 50 in a single night.
The State Fire Marshal's Office is expected to bring more charges against the teens since an unexploded Molotov cocktail was found inside at least one of the victim's cars.
Ironically, the final victim in the crime spree was a person quite familiar to the public through his role with the Maryland State Police.
Greg Shipley, the MSP spokesman, says he had family members at his home on a recent weekend, when they discovered three of their vehicles with smashed windows.
He called Hampstead police, and he had no idea Officer Halterman had already spotted the suspects leaving his neighborhood.
"He finally showed up maybe 35 minutes later and there was that immediate frustration, but then he said, 'I know why you called me, and I have three suspects in custody who committed this crime.'"