Police make arrests in break-in case

Sheriff warns that other criminals may still be

targeting South End

FREELAND — Police arrested a man and woman in Burlington Friday afternoon in connection with a commercial burglary in the Freeland area.

Island County Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested Jason Ashlock, 29 and Shari Lueken, 21, for second degree possession of stolen property.

The pair may be linked to other Freeland burglaries, said Island County Sheriff Mark Brown.

If so, it would be a significant break in the string of more than two dozen burglaries of shops and homes on the South End. A dozen break-ins have occurred at Freeland businesses.

“The prosecutor is looking at the case with the detectives in the next four to five days,” Brown said. “We would like to see links to all 12 burglaries but are looking at two or three different counts. It is fair to say that the hard work begins now.”

Bail was set at $50,000 for Lueken and $10,000 for Ashlock during a preliminary arraignment on Saturday, March 15. Both are being held at the Island County Jail in Coupeville.

The arrests may not be the end to the spate of property crimes, the sheriff warned. Police have said the recent high number of break-ins is the highest they have seen in 15 years.

“It is important to note that, although arrests have been made, this does not mean that all burglaries have been solved,” Brown said. “In fact, I would say with a great deal of certainty that we still have other groups or individuals targeting our community. There’s more than one.”

Brown said South Whidbey residents should continue to report suspicious activity in and around residential neighborhoods and local businesses.

Since Feb. 1, Brown said that there have been a dozen reported commercial burglaries in Whidbey’s South End, including one in Langley, three in the Clinton area and eight in Freeland.

“That’s a little high compared to the 22 residential and eight attempted burglaries,” he said. “I don’t feel comfortable in any way shape or form that this is going to resolve all of our burglaries. In particular, it may not even be related to a lot of the residential burglaries.”

There have been 23 reported or attempted commercial burglaries, and reports of audible burglar alarms sounding in businesses, since the start of the year, according to a review of police reports from January to present.

The incidents include thefts at Nichols Brothers Boat Builders, Inc. of Freeland in mid January and the U-Haul Company of Clinton in late February.

Island Recycling of Freeland was targeted twice in February by thieves and Island Tea Company of Freeland was burglarized on March 3. Someone tried to break in to the tea shop again a week later.

A thief broke into Freeland Lanes on March 4 and stole $200 worth of candy and beer.

The most recent break-ins occurred on March 9 in Langley at Moonraker Books and Roberta’s, an adjoining women’s clothing store.

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