The break-in that occurred sometime late Tuesday night at the headquarters of Michael S. Steele's U.S. Senate campaign did not involve an iconic D.C. apartment complex. No tape was left behind in the doorjamb. No dutiful night watchman summoned police.

And to the best of anyone's knowledge -- despite aggressive prodding from reporters who wanted badly not to miss the next story of a lifetime -- this third-rate burglary was no Watergate.

"We have no reason to suspect this was anything other than, well, a burglary," said Leonardo Alcivar, a campaign spokesman for Steele, who is Maryland's Republican lieutenant governor.

Police said they were called at 5:12 a.m. by a tenant of the vanilla-hued, two-story stucco building in the historic section of Annapolis.

Don Paxton, who works at a title research firm in the building, reported finding a broken window and desks that had been rifled through. Later, Alcivar said, Steele's campaign aides discovered that their ground-floor office had been hit, too. Four laptops were gone.

But no, the computers did not contain sensitive strategies or top-secret files, Alcivar said.

Still, in the building there was banter about political intrigue. "Of course that's the first thing I thought about," said landlord Carl Tenner, who twice mentioned he fancies the moniker "Tennergate."

If the culprits really were political plumbers, he said, "they sure went to a lot of trouble to divert interest."

In all, five offices were hit, Tenner said. Petty cash was pinched from his office. Three windows were busted. State GOP Chairman John Kane joked about "maybe putting some of our pit bulls down there to stand watch." But even he's not blaming political foes.

"Best I can tell," Kane said, "Howard Hunt is not in Annapolis."