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Couple arrested for theft possibly involved in recent rash of burglaries
A man and woman believed to be involved in the Island’s recent rash of burglaries were arrested in their home near Tahlequah Friday afternoon — a possible culmination to a saga that has played out for months on Vashon.
The King County Sheriff’s Office obtained a search warrant for the couple’s house, in the 28500 block of Vashon Highway S.W., where detectives and deputies found several items — from laptops to chainsaws — believed to have been stolen from Vashon homes and businesses over the last several months. Authorities also found signs of drug use, including methamphetamine, a highly addictive drug thought to be on the rise on Vashon.
A three-month-old infant was also in the home. The baby was placed in the custody of the state’s Child Protective Services, said Sgt. Calvin Beringer, Vashon’s administrative sergeant.
“The baby is going to be in a better place tonight than it was this morning. And from the photos we took of all the drugs in the house, the baby won’t be going back there any time soon,” Beringer said Friday.
The home where the couple and the baby lived, he added, “is pretty grim.”
The man is being held in the King County Jail on $100,000 bail and is expected to be charged on Wednesday. The woman, 19, was released Saturday afternoon. The Beachcomber does not publish the names of people arrested until they have been charged.
Among the goods found in the home were chainsaws, hedge-trimmers, a power-washer, DVD players, computer equipment, jewelry and leather coats. Beringer estimated that the goods represent “several thousand dollars worth of merchandise.”
The investigation into Vashon’s spate of burglaries is ongoing, he said. The man, he said, is believed to be a key player in some but not all of the break-ins. Asked if there will be more arrests, Beringer answered, “I’m surmising there will be.”
The couple had been living in a home near the Vashon Municipal Airport along with a few other people until September, when Joe Wald, a neighbor, confronted them. Wald, the son of a retired Seattle Police Department officer, called the King County Sheriff’s Office after he had an altercation with one of the residents — the man just arrested — over how fast he was driving on the small gravel road near Wald’s home.
Two days after a deputy responded to Wald’s call, officers were back at the house with an arrest warrant on an unrelated matter for one of the residents — and, in the process, found several items that had been taken from two Vashon film-makers a couple of weeks before.
Wald, meanwhile, knew that the owner of the house was out of the country, so he tracked down her adult son to let him know what was happening at his mother’s home. The adult son, Wald said, “was on the next ferry” and, with Wald, told the five adults in the house to leave.
Two left on foot, one on a bicycle and two in a car, Wald said. A sixth man — the one just arrested — arrived later that night to collect some belongings; he, too, was told he wasn’t welcome at the home, Wald said.
Wald said he was determined to stand up to the household. “I felt I had a couple of choices. One was to be scared in my own home. The other was to make them scared,” he said.
Several break-ins, meanwhile, continued to plague the Island last week, before Friday’s arrest. Susan McCabe, program director at the Vashon Park District, said thieves broke into the Burton Skate Park last Tuesday, where they took a projector. A break-in was also attempted at the park district’s office at Ober Park.
And Gib Dammann, who heads the buildings and grounds committee at the Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit, said someone attempted to break into the church; two doors and a window were damaged in the process.
Wald said he believes the rash is nearing its end.
“Hopefully, they’ll make a few more arrests real soon,” he added.