The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Laptop Thief Behind Bars

5 min read


Former University of Mary Washington student David Ware was arrested last November for stealing what school officials report was over $86,000 of University property and was found responsible for the numerous incidents of urination throughout Randolph Hall.
In July, Ware was convicted of three counts of burglary and three counts of grand larceny and is now serving just nine months of his 12-month sentence and owes the school $20,000 restitution.
Ware, who has been on bond for nearly a year, began serving his sentence in early October.
He is currently imprisoned in the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail in Charlottesville, Va. and is scheduled for release in July 2008.
Sgt. Joseph Samuels, the head investigator in the case, explained that Ware’s sentencing, which was actually a 30-year sentence suspended to one, was light because he is a first-time offender.
According to Samuels, Ware is on supervised probation for 10 years.
“If he messes up again, he could get a portion or all of that suspended sentence,” said Samuels.
Samuels explained that an agreement was made between the Commonwealth and Ware’s defense attorney that all additional charges against Ware would be dropped on the condition that Ware pled guilty to the six charges against him.
According to police, the dropped charges, for which they say they had ample evidence, included additional grand larceny as well as charges for urinating throughout Randolph Hall.
According to UMW police, the total cost to rebuild the secure fencing in the basement of Trinkle Hall that Ware destroyed and to replace everything unac counted for or damaged was $86, 447.
After serving six days at a Stafford, Va. jail, according to Gardner’s legal assistant, Debra Love, Ware was released on bond around Nov. 21, 2006 and remained so until his sentence hearing in October.
Records show that Ware was originally charged with one count of petit larceny, five counts of statutory burglary and four counts of grand larceny.
At a hearing at the Fredericksburg Circuit Court on April 9, 2007, Ware pled not guilty to these 10 charges and waived his right to trial by jury.
On July 18, 2007, the prosecution requested to drop four of the charges and Ware pled guilty to the six remaining felony charges. Ware was convicted of three counts of statutory burglary and three counts of grand larceny.
At his sentence hearing at the Fredericksburg Circuit Court, Ware received five years with four years, ten months suspended for each of his six convictions, amounting to a 12-month sentence, and owes the University of Mary Washington $20,000.
The conditions set forth by the Circuit Court state that Ware must make this payment in increments of $200 beginning no later than Nov. 1, 2008.
The Circuit Court said that no payments have been made at this time.
Police reported that on the night of his arrest, Sgt. Wallace Janish of the UMW Police caught Ware inside Jepson Hall carrying a trash bag filled with two stolen projectors and arrested him immediately.
Officials said that Ware  said he had a lot of debt, and he stole some projectors from Jepson, thought better of it and he was just now returning them when Janish caught him.
Samuels said that Ware did in fact have substantial credit card debt and told the sergeant it was “upwards of $50,000.”
Samuels explained that aside from catching Ware in the act, police have DNA evidence connecting Ware to the various thefts on campus, including his fingerprints and blood. According to police, Ware apparently cut himself during one of the thefts.
Samuels said that at the time of his arrest, Ware had been a suspect for some time.
“We had been watching him,” said Samuels. “He was our prime suspect.”
When police went to search Ware’s room the night of the arrest, Samuels said that Ware asked if he could go in first.
Samuels said that they let him do this because there was no way Ware was going to be able to bring any stolen goods out of the room and get them past the police.
Samuels explained that before police entered the room, Ware took a stack of computers and keys into his suitemate’s room.
According to school officials, the suitemate reported to police that he found a box full of keys and loads of computers in his room and that he had heard Ware come into his room the night before, but thought he was just returning his Play Station games.
Police said that they found various stolen property in Ware’s possession, such as handmade keys, a lock-picking gun, two stolen student IDs, iPod, iPod charger, laptops, monitors, microphone, headphones and classroom remotes.
Ware held two campus jobs before his arrest, working for the Department of Biological Sciences and the Department of Information Technology (IT), and stole keys from both to aid in his thefts in Jepson and Trinkle Hall, officials said.
Ware sold a stolen, brand-new overhead from Trinkle over the Internet, police said. Rev. Christopher Hurton, a youth minister in Red Bluff, Ca. phoned the University when he noticed a UMW decal on an overhead he had bought over eBay.
Samuels described Ware as an “incredibly intelligent individual,” but also said that Ware is deeply disturbed.
Months before his arrest, Ware gave a female friend a box with a note in it, said Samuels.
Ware’s handwritten note read, “I am a criminal. If I were an honest person, I’d be doing 20-30 in a Fed. Penitentiary, but you, you are amazing.”
According to police, the UMW student turned in this evidence after Ware’s arrest, explaining that she did not know what Ware meant by his note until she heard of his arrest.
Mary Washington alum and Ware’s former roommate, Zach Bowman, said that he has not had contact with Ware since his arrest.
Senior Christian Tenney, who also roomed with Ware last year, said that the last time he spoke to Ware was when he and a friend visited him in jail within the span of a week following his arrest.
“It was a really jarring context to see him in behind the glass,” Tenney said.
“He was just telling us little things about what it was like [in jail] and that he was getting to know some of the people that were in there,” said Tenney. “Obviously, he wasn’t happy and just seemed to be worried about the whole thing.”
Tenney received a letter from Ware shortly after his visit thanking him for being a good friend, but said that he hasn’t heard from him since.
“He was the first male friend I made at the school. He was nothing but good to me the entire 2.5 years I knew him,” he said.
Tenney explained that for now he is keeping his distance out of respect for his friend and is letting Ware be the first to make contact.

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