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UPDATE | Suspected serial burglar will fight extradition
The man who Bainbridge Island police say is responsible for the biggest string of burglaries in the island's history was captured by a fugitive task force that had help from Virginia State Police and the Floyd County Sheriff's Office.
Jason Michael Lucas was arrested Monday by the Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force, a group under the direction of the U.S. Marshal Service, that apprehends the most violent and dangerous fugitives in the Washington, D.C. area, Maryland and Virginia.
Bainbridge police identified Lucas, 34, earlier this month as the person responsible for more than two dozen residential burglaries this spring on Bainbridge Island. Bainbridge Police Chief Matthew Hamner said the U.S. Marshals Service office in Seattle was asked to help find Lucas after a warrant was issued for Lucas' arrest.
According to the Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force, Lucas was captured in Floyd, Virginia earlier this week.
Information was developed by members of the task force that indicated Lucas may have had family living in Virginia.
Members of the Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force chased a number of leads that ultimately brought them to Floyd, a small town of less than 500 residents that's located in the southwestern area of Virginia.
According to the U.S. Marshals Service, law enforcement was able to identify Lucas and officers safely took him into custody without incident.
Lucas was booked into the Roanoke City Jail and is being held without bail.
Bainbridge police said it's not yet confirmed when he will be seen in a Kitsap County courtroom.
They were notified this week that he is currently fighting extradition back to Washington state.
"We know that regardless of whether he waives extradition or fights it, he will still be extradited," Hamner said.
"We are very confident that in the very near future he will be extradited," he said.
Bainbridge police said Lucas is thought to have been involved in 25 burglaries in Kitsap County, with 24 of those break-ins occurring on Bainbridge Island.
The string of burglaries stretched from March into April, and approximately two dozen homes were broken into during daytime hours.
Bainbridge police were able to identify Lucas as the person behind the crimes through DNA samples, footprints, eyewitness accounts and pawn shop records.
According to a statement of probable cause that details 10 of the 25 burglaries, several of the burglarized homes were broken into with a pry bar or similar tool. Some of the homes were not locked.
In mid-March, Lucas is believed to have entered a Kono Road home through an unlocked door and stole jewelry and other items. Police found latent prints that matched Lucas from a chair inside the house that had been moved.
A rental unit on the property had also been broken into the same day by what appeared to be a pry bar.
Just outside one of the lower windows of the guesthouse, boot prints were found in a flower bed that matched work boots often worn by Lucas.
Lucas is a tree service worker and in some of the cases is believed to have been working on or nearby the burglarized properties before they were burglarized.
Just a few days after the Kono Road burglary, another home was broken into with a pry bar.
In a photographic lineup, the homeowner identified Lucas as a tree service person who had worked on her property. She likewise provided a short video taken on a cell phone of Lucas working.
A next door neighbor also told police they had seen a suspicious green Chevrolet Suburban or Tahoe driving slowly on the street the day of the burglary.
An interview with Lucas' girlfriend later revealed that he would occasionally borrow her Tahoe while she was at work.
She also told police that he fled to Idaho where he has relatives when he found out police were looking for him.
The jewelry turned up three months later at a pawn shop in Garden City, Idaho, where Lucas allegedly received $111 for the items.
Before the Idaho pawn shop records showed up, though, five more burglaries occurred in April that led police to Lucas.
Blood droplets matching Lucas' DNA were found throughout the inside of a burglarized home off of Euclid Avenue in the first week of April.
Jewelry and cash were taken from the house.
The blood was found on an entrance hallway wall, on a desk where several items were stolen, on the master bedroom closet door where items were also taken and on a bathroom shelf where a jewelry box had been located.
Later the same month, pawn shops in Gig Harbor and Silverdale reported Lucas had sold stolen jewelry from three April burglaries.
A neighbor of one of the burglarized residences told police about a green SUV that was parked across the street at the time of the burglary.
Lucas was next seen while entering an unlocked home on April 16.
A 22-year-old woman was in the house alone and heard someone enter.
She grabbed a cell phone and locked herself in a bathroom to call 911.
Lucas forced the door open to the bathroom where she was hiding, saw her and turned and fled the residence with stolen jewelry. Police also lifted a latent print that matched Lucas from a jewelry box in the house.
While the woman was very emotional and could not identify Lucas in a photographic lineup, she told police that he had been wearing a baseball cap.
A witness outside the house also told officers they had seen a man wearing a ball cap drive off in a green Ford Explorer.
In addition to borrowing his girlfriend's green Tahoe, Lucas lived for a period of time with a Kingston family who owned a green Ford Explorer that Lucas sometimes borrowed.
A month later, police lifted three latent prints matching Lucas from inside the windows of another burglarized home near Agatewood Road.
The panel to a home security system had been damaged in the home but no items were stolen.
Police believe Lucas fled because of the alarm system.
Lucas' alleged Bainbridge crimes are not the first burglary charges he's had against him.
Lucas is a felon with five convictions for residential burglary, two convictions for second-degree theft, as well as convictions for first-degree theft, possession of a stolen firearm and trafficking stolen property.
Hamner announced the arrest of Lucas at the Aug. 25 Bainbridge council meeting just before inducting three new officers to the Bainbridge Island Police Department.
He said the rash of burglaries was the biggest in the island's history, and he praised his officers for also putting an end to another recent crime spree — a string of car prowls that stretched into last year.
Late last year, Aaron Michaels Blysma was arrested in connection to three car thefts, three burglaries and about 40 car prowls.
Hamner said it was the largest string of vehicle prowls in the history of Bainbridge.
“I have to give credit to a police department that’s able to solve both crime waves and take both subjects to justice,” Hamner said.