Two Columbia men who used a master key to burglarize seven Howard County schools in March and April were sentenced to probation in Howard County Circuit Court on Thursday.
During the crime spree, the men stole more than . Police tracked down the suspects after reviewing video surveillance inside school buildings and executing a search warrant at their homes, where some of the stolen property was found, according to the statement of facts in the case.
Alexander George Schweitzer, 19, pleaded guilty to four counts of second-degree burglary and three counts of fourth-degree burglary for his role in the school break-ins.
Schweitzer, of the 5600 block of Stevens Forest Road, admitted to stealing the schools' master keys from a car parked at Atholton High School on the night of Jan. 30, according to the statement of facts.
Schweitzer also pleaded guilty to four counts of theft under $1,000 for theft cases that occurred before the school burglaries, one of which was the theft of the master keys, according to Wayne Kirwan, a spokesperson for the Howard County State's Attorney's Office.
Schweitzer was sentenced to eight years in prison for the school cases and four concurrent years for the theft cases, but Judge Willam Tucker suspended all eight years and ordered Schweitzer to serve four years supervised probation and pay $1,260 restitution to the school system and $1,537 to his theft victims, according to Kirwan.
Schweitzer must also serve 150 hours of communtiy service and write an apology to the Howard County Board of Education, according to Kirwan.
Jacob Mann, 19, pleaded guilty to four counts of second-degree burglary and three counts of fourth-degree burglary for his involvement in the school break-ins, Kirwan said.
Mann, of the 6200 block of Freestone Court, was sentenced to eight years in prison, all suspended by Judge Tucker, and will instead serve four years of supervised probation. In addition, he was ordered to pay $1,260 in restitution to the school system, perform 75 hours of community service, write an apology letter to the board of education and successfully complete a drug treatment program, according to Kirwan.
Schweitzer's twin brother, Nicholas, is charged in two of the seven school burglaries as well as the theft of the school master keys. His hearing is scheduled for Oct. 4.
Three Columbia Teens Charged with School Break-Ins