WASHINGTON – University of Maryland police have obtained an arrest warrant for a man whom they want to question in connection with a string of campus computer thefts in which internal parts are stolen and the gutted computer left behind.
Campus police spokeswoman Maj. Cathy Atwell would not say whether Edi Kurtovic, 30, was a suspect in those thefts. The arrest warrant only accuses him of stealing a laptop, computer parts and a compact-disc player, worth a total of about $1,200, from the Computer and Space Sciences building on Sept. 10.
Atwell said police do not have enough evidence to charge Kurtovic with the other thefts, “but we are continuing to investigate those cases” and officers want to question him about the other incidents.
Kurtovic, of no fixed address, is currently being held by the D.C. Department of Corrections on an unlawful entry charge in the District, according to corrections spokesman Darryl Madden.
George Washington University officials said Kurtovic was arrested on their campus for unlawful entry on Aug. 6 and again on Sept. 13. The second time he was arrested, authorities said they found University of Maryland keys on Kurtovic and called College Park campus police.
Atwell said Kurtovic was carrying a CD player that was later identified by a University of Maryland employee as having been stolen from the Computer and Space Sciences building.
Atwell said campus police want to extradite Kurtovic to Prince George’s County.
The string of campus computer thefts began in July and continued until Sept. 11, according to police documents. In those cases, the thief took apart computers, removed critical parts, such as hard drives and memory chips, put the machines back together and left them behind.
Police said the burglar has made off with $7,000 worth of parts in 15 such incidents.
Researchers on the Maryland campus have said they were more worried about losing years of work stored on their hard drives and less concerned about the loss of computer parts. Because the thief reassembled the computers after gutting them, victims often did not know something was wrong with their computers until they tried to turn them on.
Atwell has said there was no evidence that the thief in those cases was trying to steal the data on the computers. She said Wednesday that police still could not provide a motive in the thefts.
Computer parts have been stolen from the Animal Sciences building, the Chemistry building, the Computer and Space Sciences building, the A.V. Williams building, the J.M. Patterson building and Holzapfel Hall.