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Burglaries prompt police to issue warning notice
A string of South Whidbey burglaries and subsequent questions from the public spurred police to issue a public warning this week.
Following an inquiry by the South Whidbey Record, the Island County Sheriff’s Office distributed an “e-lert” to homeowners Thursday throughout the South End.
The electronic email notice warned residents of the danger and told them to be on the lookout for a white male, approximately 35 to 40 years old.
The man is described as somewhat overweight, 5 feet, 6 inches to 6 feet tall, and unshaven, according to the e-lert.
The man may be driving a vehicle described as a “beige and/or tan passenger car with out-of-state vehicle license plates.”
An investigation is ongoing but police do not yet know whether the suspect is a resident or visiting from off-island.
“We really don’t know that,” said Island County Sheriff Mark Brown, in a telephone interview with The Record.
Brown confirmed that up to 15 burglaries have occurred at homes between Bayview and Greenbank since August. Investigators believe they are linked as each had a specific type of break-in.
“It’s what we call a knock and kick,” Brown said.
The burglars visit homes between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. and knock on doors. If no one answers, they “kick it down,” he said.
The most common items taken are flat-screen TVs, laptop computers and cell phones. Apple products appear to be of particular interest, Brown said. Firearms were also reported missing.
All the stolen goods are considered “easy dollars” as they can be resold relatively easily. Brown encouraged victims to contact police quickly and fill out an inventory of missing items promptly. That improves the chances of recovery as detectives have a better chance of finding them at pawn shops or other venues before they are sold.
The best deterrent for this type of burglary is to be at home, the sheriff said, but as that’s not always possible, homeowners can also “make sure your doors are of sturdy construction material and use heavy duty locks/hinges for securing the door to the frame.”
Leaving a TV or lights on can also serve as a deterrent, as it may fool burglars into thinking someone is home. Speaking with neighbors and setting up a watch is another method of safeguarding your home while away, he said.
Several years ago, Freeland was victim to a rash of commercial burglaries. The problem got so bad that Brown hosted a community meeting. The sheriff said he isn’t planning a similar event yet but isn’t ruling out the idea entirely.
“If it comes to that, I will,” he said.
Burglaries and suspicious activity should be reported by calling 9-1-1.