The First Step Family Support Center in Port Angeles, which provides support services to young mothers and their children, was the site of two burglaries last week. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

The First Step Family Support Center in Port Angeles, which provides support services to young mothers and their children, was the site of two burglaries last week. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Family support center burglarized

PORT ANGELES — An agency committed to helping low-income mothers and their young children was burglarized twice last week, closing some services to needy residents.

Two people were arrested Tuesday in connection with one burglary from First Step Family Support Center, 325 E. Sixth St., Port Angeles Police Officer Luke Brown said Friday.

The items were valued at $4,500, Brown said.

They ranged from a laptop with a First Step sticker on it to smart phones, from colored pens to car keys to clothes — mostly clothing, which would go to clients, First Step Executive Director Nita Lynn said.

A second theft of about $80 in items including baby formula and children’s shoes was discovered Thursday morning, Brown said. Police have no suspects.

“The monetary value is small, but the need is fairly high, I would say,” Brown said.

Daren J. Akin, 29, was in the Clallam County jail Friday on $5,000 bail, in connection with the first burglary.

Jamila C. Andrus, 30, a First Step volunteer released on her own recognizance Wednesday in connection with the first burglary, also will be arraigned in Clallam County Superior Court Friday.

Court documents describe Akin and Andrus as transients.

Lynn said Friday the facility is open and staff are still making home visits.

Lynn said agency personnel drive leased cars to visit needy mothers throughout Clallam County who have children up to 6 years old.

But the drop-in center, clothing and equipment closet and playground are shut down, probably until Tuesday.

“I’m extremely discouraged,” she said.

Lynn said 1,700 families and 5,000 individuals use First Step annually.

“This is a program that people put their heart and soul into every day, and then to have things stolen from them is disheartening,” she said.

“It shook up the staff because their space was invaded and property was taken.”

According to the probable cause statement for Andrus, Lynn found Andrus sleeping in the First Step garage area Sunday after Andrus entered the building through a window.

A witness saw a woman matching Andrus’ description leave the side gate of First Step at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday and walk down the alley with a man, according to Brown’s probable cause statement.

Later Tuesday, Brown found Andrus walking down Lincoln Street in Port Angeles, he said.

He saw a laptop matching the one missing from First Step sticking out of her bag that Andrus identified as being from the agency, Brown said.

Andrus signed a statement admitting she took items from First Step, Brown said.

While Andrus was being booked, a plastic baggie with what Andrus identified as methamphetamine and which later tested positive for the drug was discovered hidden in Andrus’ wig, according to the probable cause statement.

Brown said Andrus had two large bags with her when she was arrested, while Akin, arrested separately, had two backpacks.

Andrus said she broke into and invited Akin to First Step.

Brown located Akin at the Chevron station on East First Street.

One of the backpacks contained pens, iPhone chargers, an iPhone and three Prius key fobs, Brown said.

Brown and Lynn said they did not know how long Andrus had been sleeping at First Step.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@ peninsuladailynews.com.

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