Thefts spike in Kitsap; Poulsbo police arrest suspect in local thefts

A suspect has been arrested after a string of thefts in Kitsap. Detectives across the county joined forces to track down the suspect, believed to have targeted homes and cars for theft.

POULSBO — A suspect has been arrested, believed to have been involved in a string of home and car thefts in Kitsap.

Detectives across the county joined forces to track down the suspect.

“All of the cities and the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office put together a group of detectives to work together on these (cases), as the bad guys were hitting pretty much everywhere across the county,” Poulsbo Police Chief Alan Townsend said. “Our detective, Valerie Nau, is part of that group, along with detectives from the other jurisdictions. The concept was to do extra follow-up investigation to try to link the crimes together.”

Detectives from Bainbridge Island, Bremerton, Port Townsend, Poulsbo and the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office formed the task force. Each jurisdiction noticed a spike in theft reports, all bearing similar aspects, leading detectives to believe they were related, Townsend said.

The rise in thefts prompted Townsend to send two emails to Poulsbo residents.

“Over the last week and a half, across the entire county, there has been a rash of auto thefts and thefts of property from within parked vehicles,” Townsend wrote in a Jan. 9 email. “Poulsbo has not been spared from this problem. In fact, as I write this I’m listening to the sheriff’s office and Bremerton (officers) responding to one of these crimes occurring now.”

Poulsbo experienced six auto thefts in one week, Townsend said, along with numerous other car prowls. He noted that a majority of these thefts have occurred in parking lots along Highway 305.

Stolen cars are used as transportation “while they steal from other cars,” Townsend wrote. “They seem to dump those in another commercial parking lot and then often times steal another car and continue the process.”

Bremerton police arrested a suspect that detectives believe is responsible for a bulk of local thefts, according to Townsend. The suspect was allegedly involved in two Jan. 7 burglaries in Poulsbo, as well as the string of car thefts.

“He was taking pretty much anything of value from the cars,” Townsend said. “He would steal the car and take wallets, etcetera, from the car. Then (he would) use that car to commit other thefts from cars in the area. Then he would dump that car and take a new one. Hence, why we had so many (thefts) in a short period of time.”

The suspect is a “career criminal,” according to Townsend, and has not been cooperative with police. Townsend said that there are “too many similarities in the times of offenses for the burglaries and the auto thefts not to be connected.”

While the suspect has been arrested, he has not been charged.

“Bad guys don’t spend much time in jail for auto theft, so putting multiple crimes together enhances our chances of seeing this guy actually go away for a while,” Townsend said. “Some of the follow-up included things like searching for neighboring businesses with video that might have recorded the thefts, and other physical evidence left by the suspect.”

Since the arrest, Townsend noted, numbers thefts have dropped in the area.

“Hopefully, the task force will be able to put together cases on him,” he said. “Auto thefts and burglaries have pretty much come to a halt since his arrest.”

Despite one suspect behind bars, thefts have continued in Poulsbo. A burglary occurred near Viking Avenue after the suspect was arrested. Townsend stresses that it is still important to lock your car and make targets difficult for thieves to steal from.

Dec. 28: 2000 block of Ridgewood Street
Dec. 31: 20000 block of Winton Lane
Jan. 7: 700 block Shorewood Court
Jan. 7: 800 block Matson Street
Jan. 11: 400 block of Nesvik Way

Dec. 11: 20100 block of 10th Avenue
Jan. 2: 700 block of Edvard Street 
Jan. 2 19000 block of Jensen Way
Jan 2: 700 block of Iverson Street
Jan. 2: 19200 block of 10th Avenue
Jan. 5: 18100 block of 9th Avenue
Jan. 5 19600 block of 7th Avenue
Jan. 8: 700 block of Lincoln Road

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— Light up your residence, lock your doors at all times, and call the police when you see something suspicious.

— Make your home look occupied, and make it difficult to break in. Lock all outside doors and windows before you leave the house or go to bed. Even if it is for a short time, lock your doors.

— Leave lights on when you go out. If you are going to be away for a length of time, connect some lamps to automatic timers to turn them on in the evening and off during the day.

— Keep your garage door closed and locked.

— Don’t allow daily deliveries of mail, newspapers or fliers to build up while you are away. Arrange with the post office to hold your mail, or arrange for a friend or neighbor to take them regularly.

— Arrange for your lawn to be mowed if you are going away for an extended time.

— Check your locks on doors and windows and replace them with secure devices as necessary. Push-button locks on doorknobs are easy for burglars to open.

— Install deadbolt locks on all your outside doors.

— Sliding glass doors are vulnerable. Special locks are available for better security.

— Consider a monitored alarm system. Many times the alarm signage on your property will steer the thieves to a different location. Police response times to alarm calls is around 3 minutes on average.

— Do not leave valuables in plain view: GPS devices, laptops, cell phones, MP3 players, wallets, purses, etc.

— Do not leave windows or sunroof open.

— Do not leave doors unlocked.

— Do not leave keys in the vehicle.

— Do not leave the garage door opener in plain view.

— Do not leave out items with personal information.

— Slow down and use common sense before you leave your car.