It's bad enough having to commute from one place to another, each day, to go to work. But coming back to one's parked vehicle to discover its stereo ripped out is definitely the pits.
Last fall, however, that's the scene that awaited several residents who parked in a Virginia Railway Express (VRE) commuter lot in Burke. On Friday, the Centreville man responsible for these thefts was sentenced to eight years in prison.
HE IS Gilbert N. Colmes, 39, of 13684 Bent Tree Circle, No. 204. Fairfax County police arrested him Sept. 10, and a jury convicted him in January of grand larceny and possession of burglary tools.
Det. Nickolas Boffi detailed the case against him in a Sept. 12 affidavit for a search warrant to look for evidence in Colmes' apartment. He wrote that, on Sept. 3, a man called the police to report a theft from his vehicle while it was parked at the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) commuter lot at 5671 Roberts Parkway in Burke.
The man stated that, sometime between 6:45 a.m. and 5:45 p.m., someone entered his locked, 1985 Datsun 300ZX and removed his Kenwood car stereo, a pair of Bosch and Lomb "Wings" sunglasses and a pair of aviator glasses with a hard black case.
Then on Sept. 10, police Pfc. J. Vesper was on patrol in that VRE lot when he observed a man "acting in a suspicious manner" inside a green, 1997 Honda Accord. When the man in the Honda saw the officer, he ran from the vehicle and sped out of the lot in a 1984 Ford Tempo with Maryland license tags.
VESPER PURSUED the vehicle and followed it to Roberts Road and Zion Drive, where the driver lost control of his car and crashed into a fence. According to Boffi, the man ran from the vehicle, but Vesper chased and apprehended him. Police identified him as Colmes.
"Further inspection of the vehicle that Colmes wrecked and ran from revealed several car stereos in plain view," wrote Boffi. "Believing that the stereos were the proceeds of larcenies from vehicles in the VRE lot on Roberts Parkway, officers responded to the commuter lot and identified several vehicles with stereos removed from their dash."
Police confiscated the stereos found in Colmes' car, keeping them as evidence. Furthermore, wrote the detective, "During the inventory of Colmes' vehicle, a black sunglasses case was located on the rear seat. Inside the sunglasses case was a business card of [the Sept. 3 victim]."
Boffi then wrote that, on Sept. 11, a different person came to the West Springfield police station and "positively identified his Alpine car stereo that was stolen from his 1995 Jeep Cherokee [while] parked in the VRE lot on Roberts Parkway on Sept. 10. The Alpine car stereo was one of the car stereos that was recovered from Colmes' vehicle."
On Sept. 12, police charged Colmes with three counts of grand larceny and possession of burglary tools. On Nov. 10, one of the grand-larceny charges was certified to the grand jury, along with possession of burglary tools.
THE GRAND JURY indicted him on Nov. 17. Two months later, on Jan. 21, he had a jury trial in Circuit Court. The jury found him guilty and, the next day, recommended he serve eight years in prison for grand larceny and two years for burglary-tool possession.
Colmes returned for sentencing, last Friday, March 12, and Judge Robert Wooldridge imposed the jury's recommended punishment. He ran the sentences concurrently instead of consecutively, so Colmes will have eight years to serve, rather than 10.