48 months for District thief judge called a ‘plague’

A District man who repeatedly broke into cars on Capitol Hill was sentenced to four years in prison Friday for theft and contempt as a judge called him a plague on the community.

David Vines, 48, has been arrested 59 times in 30 years. In the past decade, he has specialized in breaking into cars, prosecutors said. And while he has served jail time before, Friday’s 48-month sentence, set by D.C. Superior Court Judge Ronna L. Beck, was his stiffest yet.

Authorities characterized their efforts to obtain a substantial sentence for Vines as part of an effort to combat nuisance crime in the District.

Vines spoke at length during the hearing, detailing much of his life and saying he was frequently drunk or high on cocaine when he committed his thefts.

He asked for a year’s sentence, the minimum required, saying he has liver cancer and didn’t want to die in prison.

“I never hurt nobody,” Vines said. “I’m just a small-time thief. I admitted. I did what I done, and it’s wrong.”

Beck admitted that Vines was in a “very sad situation.”

But “your conduct has had a large impact on our community,” she told him in court. “The impact cannot be written off as small-time.”

The U.S. Attorney’s office shared a document it said maps Vines’s convictions and arrests between 1999 and 2012.

This item has been updated.

Read more: The Post’s crime coverage

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