- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 13, 2003

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — An armed-robbery suspect lived secretly in an attic crawl space for nearly six weeks, eavesdropping on the home’s occupant through a telephone tap and hidden baby monitors, police said.

Robin E. Lewis fled in a stolen sport utility vehicle after being detected Saturday but returned Sunday and left the victim, his former roommate, a chilling note — “I will always be watching you” — police said.

Mr. Lewis, 35, remained at large last night, Frederick Police Department Cpl. Joseph Bourke said. He may be driving former roommate Aaron Smith’s 2002 blue and gold Ford Explorer or a gray, mid-1980s Chevrolet Nova, Cpl. Bourke said.

Mr. Smith, 39, told police that he had kicked Mr. Lewis out of the two-story town house at the end of March for not paying his share of the rent. On Saturday he learned that Mr. Lewis apparently never left and had been spying on him from the 10-by-10-foot cubbyhole.

Mr. Smith has been staying with friends since then, police said. He told the Frederick News-Post that he planned to avoid the town house until Mr. Lewis is caught, “or I’ll move.

“I don’t know what else to do.”

Mr. Lewis faces felony charges of burglary, theft and malicious destruction in Frederick County. A warrant issued in neighboring Washington County charges him with the armed robbery of a Michaels arts-and-crafts store in Hagerstown on April 2.

The men were roommates for 10 months, Mr. Smith told the News-Post.

“I never really wanted a roommate, but he said he had no place to go,” Mr. Smith said. “I figured, ‘Why not? He’ll be able to help me out with the rent.’”

Mr. Smith said he had been hearing odd noises at home for weeks but couldn’t locate the source. On Saturday he and some guests investigated and found dime-sized holes in the vaulted ceilings of the master bedroom and living room, Sgt. Andy Dewese said.

When someone in the group stuck a screwdriver through one of the holes, someone on the other end pushed back, Sgt. Dewese said.

Mr. Smith and a guest then searched an upstairs storage room and found Mr. Lewis in the hidden chamber, behind an insulation panel, according to the police report.

Mr. Lewis ran out, leaped from a second-floor balcony to the living-room floor, snatched Mr. Smith’s keys from a counter and sped off in his car, police said.

Cpl. Bourke said police removed 12 trash bags filled with beer cans, and bottles and wrappers from fast-food meals, snack cakes and candy bars. The space also contained a chair, laptop computer, videocassette recorder and television, according to the police report.

Mr. Lewis apparently had tapped into Mr. Smith’s cable and telephone lines, using a telephone receiver to eavesdrop on his calls, police said.

Police also found baby-monitor transmitters hidden throughout the home and a receiver in the crawl space, suggesting that Mr. Lewis tracked Mr. Smith’s household activities and roamed the town house freely while Mr. Smith was at work.

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