Sequim police officers are seeking a man caught on video at the Sequim VFW post during a burglary Sunday. (Sequim VFW)

Sequim police officers are seeking a man caught on video at the Sequim VFW post during a burglary Sunday. (Sequim VFW)

Man seen on video camera stealing $700 from Sequim VFW

By Matthew Nash

Olympic Peninsula News Group

SEQUIM — Sequim’s Veterans of Foreign War Post 4760 was the victim of theft again Sunday.

Brittany Mathis, president of the VFW auxiliary, said about $700 was stolen from the bar’s safe at the post at 169 E. Washington St. while members met upstairs for a meeting.

Surveillance video at the post records a man at about 1:20 p.m. climbing through a window into the bar and removing the money from an open safe, leaving in less than a minute.

Representatives of the post, Mathis said, were upstairs at a meeting that began at 1 p.m.

Sequim police officers describe the burglar as standing between 5 feet, 5 inches and 5 feet, 9 inches tall, weighing between 140 and 170 pounds with dark hair.

Sgt. Mike Hill said Tuesday that officers continue to investigate and are following tips. Information can be reported to the Sequim Police Department at 360-683-7227.

The burglary follows an alleged embezzlement earlier this year.

Rischelle Lea Heaton, 30, of Port Angeles is accused of embezzling nearly $10,000 from the post by writing herself 32 checks from November 2016 to early March.

She has pleaded not guilty to one count of first-degree theft and 31 counts of forgery and faces a three-day trial scheduled to begin July 17.

Mathis, who also works for the post, said she assumes the burglar is someone who knew of the post’s meeting and the business’ layout and routines.

“If you watch the video, he knew exactly where to go,” she said.

The post has had issues with past bartenders and small thefts in the past leading to a large turnover in staff, Mathis said.

“It takes a special person to stay there,” she said.

“I’m a semi-stay-at-home mom and it works with my schedule. You stay there because of its history. My grandparents went there. It’s a piece of history in our community.”

Mathis said because of a mistake by a post staffer, who they do not believe is a suspect, the safe was unlocked.

The post has recovered some funds through insurance from the embezzlement case, she said, but the business is “barely keeping our doors open at this point.”

“We’re a private club/place for veterans and their families to go,” Mathis said.

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Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].