Police step up efforts in response to Port Angeles burglaries

PORT ANGELES — Police are stepping up patrols and using high-tech help in their investigation of a spate of burglaries that number at least 53 since the beginning of June and 160 since the first of the year.

“We’re increasing our targeted patrols in areas we think are at risk,” Port Angeles Deputy Chief Brian Smith said Saturday.

Officers are saturating areas, looking for trespassers, and are equipped with both night vision and heat-seeking devices.

“Footprints leave heat signatures. You can follow someone in the dark with” a heat-seeking device, Smith said.

“We’ve been serving search warrants . . . as I speak, things are still happening,” Smith said.

As of Saturday, no recent arrests in connection with the burglaries had been made, Port Angeles Corporal Bob Ensor said.

“No one is in custody. [but] we do have leads,” said Ensor.

“We do have evidence pointing us in the direction of a couple of different people,” Ensor said.

In July, a 28-year-old Port Angeles man was charged with a burglary in which items valued between $30,000 and $40,000 were stolen.

Jonathan W. Grantham was charged in Clallam County Superior Court on July 28 with residential burglary, first-degree theft, first-degree possession of stolen property and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

On Saturday, police continued to seek a man who ran from deputies on an all-terrain vehicle and dumped two handguns and other stolen items at the end of the Thursday evening chase.

Port Angeles police assisted deputies in that case, Smith said.

Investigators are seeking Clinton Laverne King, 30, of Port Angeles as “a person of interest” after the man on the ATV fled.

The chase began at 10:36 p.m. on U.S. Highway 101 in east Port Angeles near DelGuzzi Drive when the deputy spotted the ATV entering the highway.

It ended on Ennis Creek Road when the driver dumped the vehicle, the stolen items, and ran.

A passenger, who said he was merely a hitch-hiker, was taken into custody. No charges have been filed.

“We theorize that the stolen stuff is largely from burglaries, stolen from a structure or a vehicle,” Smith said.

Smith said that the majority of the burglaries in the last two months in Port Angeles were residential — many of those committed at night while residents were in the house sleeping — while the 160 counted since the year began were thefts from both homes and businesses.

Last week, police said that 52 burglaries had been reported in the last two months.

Another burglary was reported Thursday night in the 1000 block of West 12th St.

The home, which had two dogs in the yard, was unoccupied.

Investigators think the burglar entered through an unlocked window to steal a laptop and an MP3.

Suspects have been identified in about one-third of the burglaries in Port Angeles that have occurred since the beginning of June, Smith said.

Smith said that several agencies are working on the burglaries, although Sequim and the sheriff’s office haven’t reported burglaries of occupied homes.

Calling the burglars “brazen,” he said that he attributed the burglaries to simple opportunity.

“My sense is when you get away with something, you keep doing it,” he said.

He added that they eventually will be caught.

“There is no retirement plan for burglars,” he said. “This is not a sustainable enterprise.

“They either get caught or they stop doing it.

Smith said that phone calls from people who noticed something of interest or who had other information have been helpful, and encouraged calls to the police.

Information calls can be made to 360-452-4545.

Those who spot trespassers are urged to phone 9-1-1.

Police also urge residents to lock doors and windows.

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Managing Editor/News Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3531 or leah.leach@peninsuladailynews.com.

Reporter Tom Callis can be reached at 360-417-3532 or at tom.callis@peninsuladailynews.com.

Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Jeff Chew (see story at upper right) can be reached at 360-681-2391 or jeff.chew@peninsuladailynews.com.

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