Opinion writer

Count me among the local residents happy that 2-year-old Margo, a 20-pound cockapoo, is home again. As the owner of two dogs — a 90-pound chocolate lab and a lhasa apso about Margo’s size — I can imagine the anguish that Margo’s owner, Eric Peterson, must have experienced when he discovered last week that she had been stolen.

Margo is back in Peterson’s home in Northeast Washington, thanks to a sharp-eyed neighborhood resident (who spotted the dog) and a swift response by D.C. police.

Less confidence-inspiring, however, is the story of how Margo ended up in the thief’s possession.

The person who broke the window pane that allowed access to the basement of Peterson’s house — and to Margo, a bag of her toys, a TV, a computer and two Apple iPads — apparently is a ward of the city.

According to court papers, he is 19-year-old Reshawn D. Peay. Washington City Paper’s Jeffrey Anderson was the first to report that Peay is committed to the care and custody of the D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS).

Like Margo, who has an embedded microchip, Peay was wearing an electronic tracking device. But to what purpose and effect?

I attempted to discuss Peay’s arrest and his electronic monitoring device with DYRS Director Neil Stanley, but Stanley replied by e-mail that “longstanding juvenile confidentiality requirements limit my ability to confirm or deny that a particular youth is committed to DYRS.”

He did say that “today, there are 152 youth under DYRS care and custody who are linked to electronic supervision/monitoring (GPS).”

That leads to some head-scratching. What does it mean to wear a DYRS monitor?

The devices are billed as a good alternative to incarceration and an effective way, through a satellite in the sky, to keep track of those considered a threat to offend.

So, pray tell, what was up with Peay?

Here’s why I ask.

Court documents disclose that a D.C. detective and two police officers, following a tip that Margo was inside the home where Peay lives, went to the 1500 block of Benning Road NE last Saturday at 7:35 a.m. The police were allowed to enter the rear bedroom, where they found Margo and Peay.

Peay, according to the documents, waived his Miranda rights and told the police how he entered Peterson’s house and took the dog and other items. (He later threw away the iPads because he couldn’t get past the screen lock, the documents said.) Peay and Margo reportedly were driven to the 5th District police headquarters — she for identification and reunion with her owner; he for booking on charges of second-degree burglary.

But the story doesn’t end there.

Peay, according to the documents, signed a form consenting to a search of his home and was transported by a detective and police officer back to his residence, where he identified property in his possession that had been taken from other houses.

Next, Peay and the officers went for a drive, during which Peay allegedly pointed out homes he had burglarized.

Peay, the documents said, led police to :

●A home in the 1700 block of C Street NE, where he allegedly broke in and took a jewelry box and a computer;

●A home in the 1500 block of North Carolina Avenue NE, where he allegedly broke in and took a camera;

●The recreation center in the 1500 block of Benning Road NE, where he allegedly broke in and took a PlayStation 3 and a large television;

●An apartment in the 1500 block of Benning Road NE, where he allegedly broke in and took an Xbox 360;

●A home in the 700 block of 16th Street NE, where he allegedly broke in and took a large TV and a computer;

●Another home in the 700 block of 16th Street NE, where he allegedly took a BlackBerry phone, an iPad and a computer;

●A home in the 1600 block of Kramer Street NE, where he allegedly took a large television;

And to:

●A home in the 600 block of 16th Street NE, where he allegedly took a television.

Peay allegedly did those deeds all while wearing an electronic monitoring device designed to let DYRS know what he is up to.

Stanley, the DYRS director, said that through his department’s “focused youth engagement strategies, we’ve seen impressive public safety outcomes as fewer DYRS youth are re-arrested.”

Asked about the re-arrest rates of youth on locating devices, a spokesman for Stanley said that “unfortunately, DYRS does not keep this specific level of data.”

Margo, beware.

Meanwhile, D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), chairman of the committee charged with DYRS oversight, has said he will delve into the effectiveness of the department’s use of GPS at a Feb. 20 hearing.

Read more from Colbert King’s archive.