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A rash of burglaries frustrates Islanders

Vashon’s Mormon church, a small engineering office and four farm stands were burglarized last week, raising concerns among some that the Island is experiencing a rash of property crimes.

The incidents come on the heels of another huge burglary two weeks ago, when two Island filmmakers lost nearly $30,000 in equipment to a mid-day heist. The two men got much of their equipment back after a King County Sheriff’s deputy delivered an arrest warrant to an Island home and found the stolen goods. No arrests were made.

Some are frustrated by the spate of crimes and the apparent lack of progress.

“In our community, this cannot be,” said LD Thompson, one of the filmmakers who lost equipment to a burglary.

His partner David Roth-miller agreed. “Our community is under attack,” he said.

But Sgt. Calvin Beringer, Vashon’s administrative sergeant based in Burien, urged Islanders to be patient. He, too, said it seems Vashon is experiencing a crime wave and suspects a small handful of perpetrators could be behind it.

“I think there are some people who are over there who don’t normally live on the Island, and they’ve found some place to hang out for a while,” he said. “It’s typical stuff. It’s just that Vashon is such a nice, isolated community that we don’t deal with that sort of thing very often.”

Arrests weren’t made after the filmmakers’ stolen goods were discovered because officers lacked the probable cause to apprehend the people found in the home, he said. At the same time, he added, detectives are close to making an arrest.

“I truly believe we’re going to arrest somebody shortly,” he said.

The latest wave of burglaries started last Monday night, when someone apparently broke into the Island’s Mormon church next to Vashon High School. Jim Copitzky, president of the Vashon branch, said the perpetrators did a fair amount of property damage; five or six of the church’s oak doors were broken with sledgehammers.

The criminals walked away with several items, including a computer, a laser printer, a keyboard and all of the church’s microphones — similar items to what was taken from the filmmakers’ Wax Orchard Road home. But many items — including computers, televisions and DVD players — were not taken, Copitzky said.

“We’re grateful they didn’t do more,” he said.

On Tuesday night, cash boxes or other items were stolen from stands at four Vashon farms — Island Meadow Farm, Plum Forest Farm, K-Jo Farm and Pacific Crest Farm. A couple of them have been hit before: Jen Coe at Pacific Crest Farm said this is the third burglary at her stand. Karen Biondo’s K-Jo Farm has also been struck three times; this last time, her security camera was taken.

“I feel very deflated. I feel angry. I feel annoyed. And I feel like I still want to trust everybody,” she said.

Then on Thursday night, an engineering firm called Vertex on the north end of Vashon town got hit. Burglars seized two laptops, a scanner and a package of toilet paper, said Margaret Wessel, who works for the firm.

“I’m just mad,” Wessel said. “Those laptops had all the stuff we need to do our jobs.”

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