The recent winter weather has thrown many public safety workers into overdrive as agencies deal with traffic pileups, accidents and downed trees. But police in New Castle, Del. used the surfeit of snow to their advantage Friday, following a trail of frosty footprints from a crime scene to the home of two burglary spree suspects.
State troopers responded around 2:20 a.m. to a burglary alarm at a Shell gas station and convenience store on Christiana Road. They found the glass of the front entrance door was broken and several cartons of cigarettes were missing, along with other tobacco products. Investigators reviewed surveillance video and determined two suspects forced their way inside, stole the merchandise and fled on foot.
Police then found a trail of fresh footprints in the newly-fallen snow, which led officers from the gas station to a home on the 100 block of Freedom Trail. There, they made contact with Brian Matthews, 37, and Marquise Thomas, 22. Matthews and Thomas were both arrested after police said they were able to connect them to the burglary.
Further investigation allegedly revealed that Matthews and Thomas were also responsible for the Feb. 3 burglary of the same Shell station, as well as the burglary Feb. 6 of the Library News and Tobacco Store in Wilmington. Matthews is additionally accused of burglarizing the All American Tobacco Outlet Jan. 31.
Police pegged the total estimated value of the tobacco products stolen from the four businesses at $14,000.
A search of a white Ford Crown Victoria parked in the duo’s driveway allegedly turned up property stolen from the Shell station, as well as several items of clothing and tools linking the two to the other burglaries.
Matthews is charged with four counts each of third-degree burglary, theft, criminal mischief and possessing burglar tools, three counts of second-degree conspiracy and one count of wearing a disguise during the commission of a felony. He was arraigned and released on $28,000 unsecured bond.
Thomas is charged with three counts each of third-degree burglary, second-degree conspiracy, theft, criminal mischief and possessing burglar tools and one count of wearing a disguise during the commission of a felony. He was arraigned and released on $23,500 unsecured bond.