Teen denies burglary, theft charges
Rashawn Morse pleaded not guilty in Bennington criminal court on Monday to felony burglary (four counts) and grand larceny (four counts). He also pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor petit larceny (two counts), attempted petit larceny, false information to a law enforcement officer by implicating another, and unlawful mischief.
Two minor teenagers were also criminally cited after police accused them of being involved, according to court documents.
The charges are in connection with a series of break-ins and thefts that took place last October. These include the burglary of a local bicycle shop and theft of several bicycles; stolen audio equipment from an announcer's booth and snacks at a concession stand at the high school; and the theft of a golf cart from a local country club. Police say other incidents are under investigation.
A court affidavit details multiple cases investigated by several Bennington police officers. The first took place on Oct. 1 and involved a golf cart taken from the Mount Anthony Country Club.
A Bank Street resident called police at about 3 a.m. after minors crashed a golf cart into a ditch. Two juveniles later told police that Morse had driven the golf cart and that they were there with him, according to the affidavit.
Police also connected Morse to break-ins at Highlander Bicycle on Benmont Avenue.
Five bicycles, worth a total of $5,200, plus $650 in cash were reported stolen on Oct. 10. Store owner Peter Hall told police they were stolen sometime over the Columbus Day weekend. Three additional bicycles, worth more than $3,000, were reported missing a few days later. A locksmith told police that internal damage to the front door's lock would have been caused by "tremendous pressure," according to the affidavit.
A relative of Morse turned in four bicycles to Bennington police on Oct 15. She told police Morse had asked to store them in their basement before she saw photos of the bicycles on the police department's Facebook page.
Morse allegedly claimed that he had bought the bikes from a juvenile. But police found inconsistencies between Morse's story and a juvenile who he implicated in the crime.
Morse is also accused of stealing an ATV from a Gage Street residence on Oct 20. A resident told police a male dressed in black was trying to cut a lock on a gas-powered bike just after 6 a.m. before running down the street. When officers found Morse dressed in black, he denied being part of the theft and allegedly told police he had "just come from the bleachers at the high school."
The same day, police learned about break-ins to the announcer's booth and a booster club's concession stand at the Mount Anthony Union High School. Some $1,200 worth of audio equipment, $350 in concessions and $200 cash were reportedly taken.
The stolen audio equipment was allegedly found at the home of a juvenile involved in other incidents.
A 13-year-old and 14-year-old were cited as juvenile offenders for their alleged involvement, according to the affidavit. Juvenile cases are handled in the Vermont Superior Court family division.
Morse does not have an adult criminal history, court records show. He will return to court on April 9.
Ed Damon can be reached at email@example.com, at @edamon_banner on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 111.
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