UPDATE | Bainbridge vehicle prowl spree continues, police chief asks for help

Bainbridge Police Chief Matthew Hamner talks about a spree of recent car prowls during an informal press conference Friday. - Brian Kelly | Bainbridge Island Review
Bainbridge Police Chief Matthew Hamner talks about a spree of recent car prowls during an informal press conference Friday.
— image credit: Brian Kelly | Bainbridge Island Review

The Bainbridge Island police chief is asking the public for help as a string of vehicle prowls continues in what he described as the busiest crime spree on the island he's seen since he took over as chief earlier this year.

Over the time span of five days, the police department has identified approximately 12 vehicle prowls, three burglaries and several mail thefts.

The force is being bolstered to deal with the crime spree, said Police Chief Matthew Hamner, and Bainbridge police will also be asking for help from other law enforcement agencies in the area.

"We've had a lot more crime in five days than we had in any other five-day period since I've been here," Hamner said.

Since Monday, Dec. 9, Bainbridge police have received several reports of incidents happening in the Winslow core area during nighttime hours.

Nearly all of the prowls involved unlocked vehicles, which include three stolen vehicles and incidents where items were stolen from parked vehicles, Hamner said.

Hamner said islanders should be on the lookout for people acting suspiciously after dark and call police, and residents should also make sure their cars and homes are locked.

"I don't want us to be easy targets, so we need to harden our target," Hamner said. "Locking the doors, taking keys out of the vehicle, don't leave valuables in the car at night, and just be very aware of your surroundings."

"When you see somebody walking down the street who you don't recognize, take a moment to take a good look to see what they're doing," Hamner said. "If they're trying the handles of cars, call 911, that's not typical behavior."

Some progress has been made by police. A Porsche Cayenne, which was previously reported stolen, has been recovered.

However, two vehicles are still missing: a 2009 white Subaru Tribeca, license plate number AAB3704; and a 2013 brown Volvo XC90, license plate number ALF2568. Both have Washington state plates.

The stolen vehicles may have been used in the other crimes, Hamner said.

Several of the vehicle prowls have occurred at a Parfitt Way apartment complex while others have been scattered across the island.

Also in the past week, three burglaries have occurred at two Wallace Way residences and Rolling Bay Presbyterian Church, Hamner said, though, he could offer no other details as the cases are under investigation.

Hamner said the cases do not seem to be related to any regional uptick in theft cases.

"I think it's definitely isolated to here," Hamner added. "For the amount that they're doing, my guess is that they're not leaving the island and then coming back, and doing something here and then leaving the island."

Hamner further explained that Bainbridge police will be available to work with citizens or businesses who are interested in setting up neighborhood crime prevention meetings.

The public is asked to report any information regarding criminal activity to the Bainbridge Island Police at 206-842-5211. Residents can also call 911 after hours or for a crime in-progress.

"23,000 sets of eyes, beats 19," Hamner said. "I ask the public to be patient. Solving these crimes are not easy and don't come quickly."

Hamner said there is reason to believe there may be more than one person involved.

Of those involved, a suspect described as a tall, slender white male wearing a dark-colored hoody has been sighted in the area of several of these incidents.

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