Forbes' office burglarized, but crime assumed to be 'typical'

The Associated Press

NEW YORK It wasn't exactly a poor man's Watergate, but the weekend break-in at an office of millionaire presidential candidate Steve Forbes evokes comparison with history's most famous burglary.

A fax machine and a copying machine were stolen, a computer and printer were left on, and computer disks had been gone through by whomever forced open a locked office at the Penn Plaza hotel around dawn Saturday, police said.

Forbes' New York campaign director, Tom Slater, said Monday a bag containing about 400-500 campaign petition blanks also was lifted. Despite that, Slater said, campaign officials still believe the break-in was a random act and do not expect it to impede Forbes' efforts to get on the GOP state primary ballot.

As of yesterday there were no new developments and no suspects, said Officer Noreen Murray, a Police Department spokeswoman. ''The case is being aggressively investigated. There is no determination at this time that this was anything other than a burglary,'' she said.

Even that, however, offered echoes of 1972, when a team of burglars hired by President Nixon's re-election committee broke into Democratic Party headquarters at Washington's Watergate hotel complex and rifled files.

The Watergate burglary and ensuing White House cover-up ultimately brought down Nixon, who resigned as President in 1974 rather than face the process of impeachment.

Forbes campaign officials pooh-poohed any suggestion that the latest incident also was politically inspired.

''Let's not blow things out of proportion,'' said Forbes campaign spokeswoman Gretchen Morgenson. ''We're treating it as a typical break-in a regrettable fact of urban life. Until we know otherwise, that's what we're going to assume it is.''

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