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UPDATE | 'Double digit' number of homes hit by serial burglar
The spree of daylight burglaries on Bainbridge Island started in the past few weeks and involves a "double digit" number of break-ins, Bainbridge Police Chief Matthew Hamner said Wednesday.
"This is definitely a serial burglar," Hamner said. "The modus operandi is very similar among the burglaries. It's clear it's the same individual."
The police department issued a warning to residents early Wednesday about the spike in burglaries, and authorities said the thief was forcing his way into residences during daytime hours during the week when nobody's home.
Police believe the thief is hitting neighborhoods in remote areas that don't have a lot of traffic during the day, but also ones with places nearby — such as a cemetery or park — where the burglar can leave a getaway vehicle, then approach the targeted home on foot.
Police also said the burglar may be cruising neighborhoods in a vehicle before parking and coming back on foot.
The burglar is breaking windows to gain access to locked homes, Hamner said.
Smaller items that can easily be carted away — jewelry, prescription drugs, guns — have been taken in the break-ins.
The burglaries have been reported all across the island; Eagle Harbor, Port Madison, Fort Ward.
"There are all over. It's north and south and east and west; it's all over," Hamner said.
The search for clues and physical evidence is continuing.
"We are analyzing each crime scene with a fine-tooth comb and gathering whatever we can come up with," Hamner said. "Each crime scene is being looked at very closely, very meticulously, to ensure we are not missing anything."
Extra patrols have not yet been put in place, and off-island law enforcement assistance has not been sought, but Hamner said one officer has been devoted to scouring previous reports, statistics and current cases to search for common threads.
"We're looking at this, trying to figure out how to catch this guy," he said. "Anything that will lead us to his apprehension is what we are focused on."
Hamner repeated the department's earlier call for residents to remain vigilant, and to call 911 if they see something suspicious. That includes things such as an unfamiliar car parked in the area or someone who looks out of place.
"We would rather answer a 911 call that turns up nothing ... than miss an opportunity to stop the crime spree," Hamner said.