Kitsap crime ring hit island homes

Former Sun carrier knew customers were away, sheriff says.

Kitsap County Sheriff’s detectives believe a group of thieves may have used Kitsap Sun subscriber lists to carry out a spree of burglaries in North Kitsap and on Bainbridge Island.

According to a Sheriff’s Office release, five alleged members of the theft ring, including a former Kitsap Sun newspaper deliverer, have been arrested in connection with more than 50 residential burglaries and at least 100 reports of mail theft and vehicle prowls beginning last fall.

Bainbridge Police are trolling their files to see how many island break-ins might have been part of the spree.

Sherriff’s deputies are still on the hunt for four other suspects who they believe were involved in the crimes.

Two Suquamish residents and three Poulsbo residents were booked into county jail last week on felony charges ranging from possession of stolen property, trafficking in stolen property, identity theft and forgery, to possession of methamphetamine.

Four of the suspects have already appeared in court, Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Wilson said. One was released without charges, another was released on personal recognizance and two are being held on bail.

According to the release, one of the suspects had delivered newspapers for the Kitsap Sun in the area of the crimes.

Among evidence collected in the investigation were delivery route lists indicating addresses and vacation dates of recipients, which detectives believe may have allowed the suspects to enter unoccupied homes.

The arrests were made after a 2001 Oldsmobile stolen in Poulsbo turned up in Pierce County, and the buyer of the stolen vehicle identified the suspects.

The burglaries were characterized by forced entry of doors or windows, often when homes were unattended for long periods of time.

The thieves targeted electronics, jewelry, firearms, antiques, alcoholm shop and garden equipment, financial paperwork and identification documents.

Sheriff’s detectives have recovered about $75,000 worth of stolen items, but more than $250,000 of property is believed missing, and additional crimes are still being reported.

Wilson said the legwork involved in the crimes showed planning but the level of organization behind the thefts has been exaggerated in some media accounts.

“This was not an organized crime ring like the mafia. It is a loose affiliation of people connected by the use of methamphetamines,” Wilson said.

The Sheriff’s office is encouraging anyone who wishes to report a related crime, check on what stolen goods have been recovered, or has information on the thefts to contact Detective Steve Duckworth at (360) 337-5669 or Detective Lori Blankenship at (360) 337-5615.

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