Capitol police probe burglaries in lawmaker offices - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Capitol police probe burglaries in lawmaker offices

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WASHINGTON -

U.S. Capitol Police are investigating a series of break-ins at congressional offices on the House side of the Hill. 

The burglars are apparently using keys to get inside those offices. They don't seem to be interested in expensive electronics or artwork, but things with sentimental value.

"It's just outrageous," says Arlene Lewis, wife and Chief of Staff of California Republican Rep. Jerry Lewis. "We think that people that work here and have keys to these offices are probably honest. But that it isn't necessarily the case, I guess."

The thieves stole a collection of White House Easter eggs Lewis had been collecting since the Jimmy Carter presidency. 

"And I had even thought of donating them to Loma Linda [University] Children's Hospital to auction them off at one of their events," says Arlene Lewis. "And I should have done that last year because now I don't have them."

The break-ins date back to mid-April. The offices of three members and two committees have been targeted. 

"What was taken from our office was a jacket of one of our staff members," says Andrew Fasoli, Press Secretary for Rep. Jon Runyan - a freshman Republican from New Jersey. "The congressman had a scarf taken. And change out of desks, a personal camera and a camera from the office - an official camera."

Runyan's office was burglarized twice - a week apart. On one of those nights, the office of South Carolina freshman Republican Trey Gowdy next door at Longworth Office Building was also burglarized. Cash has been taken from a number of desks. 

"They went through and picked out everything except the pennies," Fasoli says. "So they stole all the silver change and left the pennies behind."

The break-ins were first reported in Thursday's edition of the National Journal. Capitol Police are not commenting about the case, telling members of Congress only that the crimes are still under investigation.

"I'm shocked," says northern Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf. "How do you break into a building that's guarded by police 24 hours a day? I think a lot of members would just assume that every office is safe and secured."

"It has to be an inside job, obviously," says New York Congressman Peter King, the Republican Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security. "An employee somewhere inside the Capitol system. I don't want to be pointing fingers at all, but if it's at night and the offices are locked, it has to be an inside job."

The burglars also broke into the Office of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security.

"That's even more troubling because obviously we could have information there that's showing where our strengths and weaknesses are that we don't want anyone to find out about," says Rep. King. "It may not be top secret or classified, but sensitive enough that you don't want it found out by the enemy or anyone for that matter." 

The senior legislative assistant to Rep. Lewis had three autographed baseballs stolen from a cabinet next to his desk deep inside the congressman's office.

"They had probably over 25 signatures on each one of those," says Congressional staffer J. Spencer Freebairn. "Just famous baseball players that came here every year for a special hot dog lunch that we had. And then they went into my closet and stole those."

They didn't take the one baseball that was unsigned.

"It's too bad," says Freebairn. "These things were personal. They kind of meant something to us. And it's too bad somebody thought they had to steal it."


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