Laptops stolen from State House law office, suspect in custody

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A suspect is in custody after police say he broke into a basement office at the Rhode Island State House and stole several laptops.

Carlos Martinez, 43, of Providence, was charged with possession of stolen goods and trespassing after he was found in Providence City Hall with two laptops that are believed to have been stolen from the State House, according to Providence Police Chief Col. Hugh Clements. He is expected to be arraigned Friday morning.

The Rhode Island State Police have taken over the investigation because the crime allegedly occurred on state property.

According to an arrest report, the laptops were likely stolen Wednesday evening, and a staffer reported the theft on Thursday.

Larry Berman, a spokesperson for R.I. House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, said it’s unclear how Martinez accessed the office because there was no sign of forced entry.

“We don’t know if they came in through a window or if they stayed in the building,” Berman said. “It’s possible he snuck in and hid under a desk or something.”

There are cameras throughout the building and Berman said the Capitol Police are there 24 hours a day.

Berman said one of the computers was a state laptop and another belonged to a lawyer that worked in the office, but there was nothing sensitive on the devices. He said at least one other laptop is also missing.

“It’s all legislative in nature [like] drafts of laws, amendments, things like that,” he said.

Emily Crowell, a spokesperson for Mayor Jorge Elorza, said the suspect was in City Hall Wednesday and was asked to leave. When Martinez was spotted in city hall again on Thursday, he immediately drew the attention of police.

“Upon speaking to Martinez, he again began to stumble on his words not making any sense as to why he was in the building,” the arrest report states. “Police at this time placed Martinez in custody for trespassing.”

The laptops were discovered when police searched Martinez, along with paperwork from “the Director for the State House Data Systems.”

Berman said the suspect was trying to sell the laptops, and police were able to quickly identify one of them as belonging to the state.

R.I. State Police Lt. Col. Joseph Philbin said detectives are handling the investigation and confirmed someone was under arrest.

This is a developing story, check back for details.

Tim White ( twhite@wpri.com ) is the Target 12 investigative reporter and host of Newsmakers for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook