Business break-ins frustrate detectives

A mini-crime wave is sweeping Kitsap County.

A penchant for jimmying doors and popping cash registers cost at least three Silverdale businesses in excess of $1,500 last weekend, said Deputy Scott Wilson, public information officer for the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office.

He said similar burglaries have occurred in Bremerton. Plus there’s been a string in Poulsbo.

What the larcenists get, varies from business to business.

“It’s usually just what’s left in the till Saturday so employees can make change when they reopen Monday — $70 to $75,” said Wilson.

However, in some instances, business people had left substantial amounts in cash registers. Wilson declined to be too specific about amounts while the investigation continues.

Detectives are also looking for a particular type of vehicle — but again, Wilson declined to be specific.

“This past weekend (Oct. 4-5) a dry cleaners in the Albertson’s complex was hit, a coffee stand on Randall Way, and a tanning salon on Myhre Place near Home Depot was broken into,” Wilson said.

Without going into detail on modus operandi, Wilson said burglars break into the main or side door, then go for the cash register. The criminals don’t seem interested in portable merchandise such as computers and other valuables.

“They get in, open the register, and go,” he said. If an alarm goes off, silent or otherwise, the perpetrators are long gone by the time deputies or police arrive. Wilson said the Sheriff’s Office is working with Bremerton police and other city departments in the investigation.

“The best prevention is to make it as hard as possible for burglars to break in,” said Wilson. “These burglars are looking for easy marks.”

He suggested businesses:

l Install a series of locks on doors.

l Have an entry that includes two doors — an outside door and an inner door in the atrium — both locked.

l Check and lock all windows before closing.

l Security alarms that are triggered, for example, by motion detectors.

l Large, roll-down safety screens across the storefront, similar to those used in the Kitsap Mall.

Such screens “are virtually indestructible,” Wilson said, although certain alarms do have drawbacks.

“About 80 to 90 percent of them are false alarms,” Wilson said. “A business’ heating will come on and stir hanging displays. Bad weather can trigger alarms. We even had one occasion when an ant, crawling across the motion sensor, triggered the alarm.”

But deputies still respond to alarms, and occasionally catch a thief in the act — if the alarm was silent and the thief was slow — but this is rare, he said.

Those with information on these incidents can call the Sheriff’s Office at (360) 297-3060.

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