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Published: Thursday, 10/21/2004

Police: Democratic office break-in not political


Authorities have a suspect but no charges have been filed

Toledo police said yesterday they don't believe the break-in and theft of three computers from Lucas County Democratic headquarters last week were politically motivated.

"We are pretty certain it was not an 'inside job,' nor was it any outside agency trying to take the computers," said Sgt. Bob Baumgartner, a burglary detective.

He said investigators believe greed - taking the computers so they could be sold - was probably the motivation for the theft. Police have a suspect in the break-in, he said, but he declined to provide any further information and emphasized that no charges have been filed.

The case remains under investigation, and police are still trying to locate and recover the stolen computers, which contained sensitive information needed by local Democrats for federal, state, and national campaigns.

The computers were taken from party headquarters at 1817 Madison Ave. in the city's Uptown neighborhood between 11 p.m. Oct. 11 and 7 a.m. Oct. 12.

County Democrats are offering $1,000 each for the immediate return of the three computers - no questions asked. Police and party officials said getting the computers back as soon as possible remains their top concern. The computers are worth about $5,000.

The Democrats originally offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for the break-in.

Despite the revised "no ask, no tell" reward offer, Democratic party spokesman Jerry Chabler said he hasn't received any word about the computers' whereabouts.

He was hoping the reward may motivate whomever took the computers to simply return them.

Sergeant Baumgartner said information obtained by police has "pretty well eliminated" any rumors or speculation of possible political motivation for the theft.

He said police are pursuing the information they have received, which the sergeant said has been determined to be reliable. Investigators have received reports of similar break-ins in the downtown area with similar entry and items stolen.

Mr. Chabler confirmed he has heard the rumors and speculation that the thefts could have been politically motivated or even an "inside job."

He said he hopes the latest report from investigators quells any such rumors and "brings the case to a speedy conclusion."

He said the party was able to recover most of the financial records and other data from backup sources and from people who have been coming forward with information - including those who were in leadership positions before Mr. Chabler and his faction of the party took control last spring.

E-mail information on the computers has not been retrieved, Mr. Chabler said.

Contact Christina Hall at


or 419-724-6007.

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