News

Vacationers hit by burglars

People with big houses in secluded areas, as well as those of us with small abodes in crowded places, should take extra security precautions when they go on vacation.

The Island County Sheriff’s Office is investigating two separate home burglaries in the last 10 days.

Jan Smith, chief administrative deputy, said in both cases burglars targeted nice homes owned by affluent folks in secluded areas when the homeowners were gone for extended periods. One house was outside of Coupeville and the other was on North Whidbey.

Smith said the burglars bypassed large, expensive items and took smaller goods that could be easily sold or pawned, like electronics, musical instruments and DVDs.

Neither the Oak Harbor nor Coupeville police reported similar residential burglaries.

Capt. Rick Wallace of the Oak Harbor Police, however, said the Kasteel Franssen was broken into Saturday night. He wouldn’t say what was stolen, but he reported that the burglars did an estimated $2,000 in damage.

The Sheriff’s Office is asking homeowners to be extra careful, especially when those who are going on vacation or are gone from home a lot of the time. There are many different security precautions residents can take, from barking dogs to motion-sensitive lights.

“One of the most valuable tools is a monitored alarm system,” Smith said.

Also, residents can sign up for the Sheriff’s Office vacation check program. It lets the citizen patrol and deputies know when residents are gone so they can do extra patrols. The forms are at the Sheriff’s Office in Coupeville.

Smith said another way to ward off burglars is to have a house sitter or at least tell neighbors when you’re going to be gone. She emphasized that neighbors should not hesitate to call 911 if they see anything funny.

Also, people should be prepared for the possibility of a break-in. Smith said it’s a good idea to have an written inventory and digital photographs of valuables. The inventory should be kept in a secure place, like a safety deposit box.

While it’s bad enough to return to a house that’s been broken into, Smith reminds folks of the potential danger of burglaries, especially if a homeowner surprises the burglar.

“If you come home and see something amiss,” she said, “don’t enter the house. Go to a safe place and call 911.”

You can reach Jessie Stensland at jstensland@whidbeynewstimes.com or 675-6611.

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