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Islanders to gather to vet recent crime wave

An Island man frustrated by the recent rash of burglaries and a perception that highly additive drugs such as methamphetamine could be behind it has organized a forum to discuss crime on Vashon.

The forum, the first such gathering to discuss crime on Vashon in several years, will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 18, at McMurray Middle School. Dan O’Brien, a retired Seattle Municipal Court clerk, said he decided to spearhead the event because he’s worried about what’s happening on Vashon — especially a violent home invasion robbery that took place in August — and is frustrated no arrests have been made.

“Like everybody, I’ve been following the news. This home invasion incident was kind of scary. There were a bunch of commercial burglaries before that,” O’Brien said.

“It’s just common sense,” he added. “We need to get together and talk about this and at least find out what’s going on.”

Sgt. Calvin Beringer, Vashon’s administrative sergeant based in the King County Sheriff Office’s Burien precinct, said he welcomes the opportunity. He also hopes Det. Debby Schmitz, who’s investigating the latest string of burglaries on Vashon, will be able to come as well.

“If the people on Vashon believe there’s an issue and want to discuss it with the police, ... I’m more than happy to go,” he said.

Beringer said he understands Vashon’s frustrations. The Island, he noted, is not a crime-ridden place, making the recent spate troubling. At the same time, he added, solving such crimes takes time and can be difficult.

“When you don’t have that type of crime on the Island except occasionally, people are going to be frustrated — because they want action right now,” he said. “But we have to play be the rules.”

The Island has been plagued by several relatively small-scale burglaries for around a year, dating back to November 2009, when $10,000 worth of camera and computer equipment was stolen from Vashon Theatre.

In the last two months, the frequency has seemingly picked up, with a significant break-in at a home on Wax Orchard Road, several smaller burglaries at other homes and a few commercial burglaries.

Two weeks ago, another round of burglaries took place, according to Islander Tab Tabscott. On Sunday, Oct. 3, a power-washer was stolen from a job site near Ober Park where he was doing a remodeling project, he said. He talked to others in the area and discovered a rototiller and lawn mower were also taken in two other separate incidents that same night.

“I’m just astonished,” he said. “It really changes the whole Island for me.”

O’Brien, who’s never organized a forum such as this, believes it can make a difference — in part, because communities that respond proactively to crime can often make a dent in it.

“It sends a message to law enforcement and government that we’re concerned,” he said. “It also sends a message to these knuckleheads that we’re not going to stand by idly and let them break into our homes.”

Like others on the Island who have looked into the latest wave of crime, O’Brien said he has reason to believe the perpetrators are meth-addicts, making these small-scale crimes potentially much more serious.

“These people get to a point where they’re so hopelessly addicted, they don’t have any scruples,” O’Brien said. “You’re dealing with irrational people.”

The special forum on crime will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 18, at McMurray Middle School, just before the regularly scheduled community council meeting.

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