Ethan Currier said when he moved to Bainbridge Island a dozen years ago it was a safe community.
He doesn’t feel that way anymore – and not just because about $15,000 worth of equipment and supplies were stolen recently from his rock sculpture studio south of Lynwood Center on Blakely Avenue.
Watching social media sites he has watched crime increase over the past few years, starting in Port Orchard and winding its way around to BI. People can actually see crime happen thanks to home cameras that show thieves taking items from porches.
That kind of crime was unheard of when he moved here; people didn’t even lock their doors.
Currier said he probably should have put up cameras at his studio because police say that’s really the only thing that can help. He was told the thieves likely are a part of an organized crime group that wears gloves and masks. A driver drops off the thieves, who break inside, steal what they can in minutes, and leave.
That’s what likely happened at his studio, Currier said. He has his stuff hidden so if someone looks through the window with a flashlight nothing can be seen. But once they broke the lock and got inside they took: drills for stone; gas and electric saws; a welder; a compressor; a chain saw; about 30 drill bits worth hundreds of dollars apiece; saw blades, including one worth $600; rigging equipment like lines and pullies for moving heavy objects; boxes of grinders; and a bag full of tools. “I can’t remember everything that was in there,” he said.
He said police practically have to catch them red-handed because they are handcuffed by laws. That would have been tough because Currier, who has been on BI for 13 years, said there couldn’t be a better place for a crime, as thieves could see headlights a mile away.
Currier said he feels lost without his tools. “For the first time in twenty years I can’t drill a hole or cut a rock at somebody’s house,” he said. Currier said he can’t afford to replace everything, but he’s going to need to spend about $6,000 to get going again.
Ironically, only his art equipment was taken. There was money in the same room, along with bicycles, a stereo, amp with two speakers and his most expensive saw they luckily didn’t see because it was boxed up. It was like they grabbed everything they could see as fast as they could and left. “They weren’t there to clear the place out. They knew exactly what to do,” he said, even putting a stick in the door to make it look like it was closed after they broke in.
His stuff was not insured as stone artwork is a hobby, not his full-time job. So he’s asking fans to support him by buying one of his sculptures.
“This is heartbreaking as I feel I build and display sculpture for the community, and for the first time in twenty years my ability to work is completely jeopardized till I replace these tools,” he says on a GoFundMe site he set up as another way for folks to help.
He is a self-taught artist who has been creating sculptures out of stone since 2001. After spending his childhood and young adult years living on boats and traveling around the world, Currier learned early on to work with his hands.
He made a name for himself locally with projects such as the Stone Sculpture Garden at Winslow Wharf and a public art installation created in 2013 on Blakely Rock, which was visible to ferry commuters and Puget Sound boaters.