The arrests of two men suspected of stealing hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel in Anne Arundel County, Md., also uncovered a large weapons cache.
Before 5 a.m. Aug. 22, detectives conducting surveillance observed someone steal diesel from a cell tower back-up generator owned by AT&T Mobility in the 8200 block of Veterans Highway in Millersville. Someone pulled a pickup truck up to the perimeter fence, cut a hole in the fence and pumped about 160 gallons into a plastic container in the bed of the truck, police said.
Then about 8 p.m. Saturday, detectives watched someone pull a pickup towing a trailer with several large plastic containers into the driveway at a Verizon Wireless facility in the 600 block of Ritchie Highway in Severna Park. The truck then was parked on the shoulder of Ritchie Highway near the entrance without the trailer, police said, and the driver was seen walking back and forth from the business several times. After about an hour-and-a-half, the driver drove the pickup back to the business, hitched up the trailer and drove away with five 55 gallon drums and another plastic container filled with a liquid later determined to be diesel fuel.
Police stopped the truck and took both occupants -- Robert Murphy, 49, of Pasadena, Md., and identified as the driver of the pickup, and Daniel Guy Padgett, 34, also of Pasadena, Md. -- into custody.
“The impact that these crimes have on the community at large is dramatic,” Anne Arundel County Police Chief Kevin Davis said.
A Verizon representative confirmed about 500 gallons of diesel was missing, police said.
“Times are tough,” said Sandy Arnette, of Verizon. “The economy is tough. You just never know why people do what they do.”
A search of one of the residences where the suspects were known to reside found 19 guns:
- Intratec Tec9 handgun with an obliterated serial number
- Florida Firearms .357 revolver
- North American Firearms .22 Magnum
- Colt 1911 .45-caliber handgun
- H&R .22-calibre revolver
- Marlin 30-30 rifle
- Savage 30-06 rifle
- Winchester Model 70 .243 rifle
- Winchester .22-caliber rifle
- Ruger 10-22 rifle
- Suomi M31 9mm sub machine
- JC Higgins .22-caliber rifle
- Marlin .22-caliber rifle
- Taurus model 63 .22-caliber rifle
- Federal Firearms FNAL .308 rifle
- Savage Arms model 67 .410 shotgun
- Marlin 12-gauge shotgun
- Mossberg .410 shotgun
- Champion Iver Johnson Works 20-gauge shotgun
Police confiscated the guns because Murphy is a prohibited carrier due to a prior felony.
“We don’t like bad guys to possess, especially illegally possess, firearms,” Davis said. “And a firearm with an obliterated serial number tells law enforcement that the person who’s in possession of that firearm with an obliterated serial number may be up to no good.”
Murphy was charged with theft over $1,000, destruction of property over $500, theft scheme $1,000 to $10,000, possession of assault pistol, destruction of property under $500, trespass, knowingly obliterating the manufacturer number on a firearm, and possession of regulated firearm after being convicted of disqualifying crime. Padgett was charged with theft over $1,000, destruction of property under $500 and trespass.
Police believe Murphy and Padgett may be responsible for more diesel thefts – a growing problem. They said 10,000 gallons of diesel has been stolen in Anne Arundel County since the first of the year.