Defibrillator stolen from church; suspect arrested

MONROE — First, the guy breaks into a church.

Then he takes off with only one item: a heart defibrillator.

He got away, but not for long.

Monroe police on Wednesday arrested a man suspected of breaking into cars along Blueberry Lane. A neighbor reported seeing the man trying to open car doors, police spokeswoman Debbie Willis said.

Police found the suspect nearby. Inside his backpack was a clue to another case: the heart defibrillator that had been nabbed in a burglary a few days before.

The St. Mary of the Valley Catholic Church is just a couple of blocks away. A custodian at the church arrived to work Monday to discover a break-in, said the Rev. Phillip Bloom. Nothing else appeared to be missing.

The defibrillator, a device used to deliver electric shocks to save people suffering heart problems, was valued at more than $750, Willis said.

It’s not clear why someone would take a defibrillator, she said. It doesn’t contain much metal to scrap. It’s not a popular item to pawn.

The man, 26, of Monroe, was booked into the Snohomish County Jail for investigation of possessing stolen property. He remained there on Thursday.

“A lot of times you recover property that has nowhere to go,” Willis said Thursday. “It was pretty rewarding to the officers that they were able to get this back to the church right away.”

It’s not the first time thieves have targeted the church. In November 2011, its antique brass bell disappeared. The bell was busted up, and the pieces were sold to a scrap metal recycler.

The church spent months raising money for another bell to ring for Sunday services.

After the theft, the church increased security measures and renewed its Block Watch efforts. That work is ongoing, Bloom said Thursday.

The defibrillator was kept near the church’s north entrance. Bloom and others had undergone training so they could use it in an emergency.

“Obviously it’s the kind of thing we need access to, so you can’t bolt it down or put a big lock on it,” he said.

The church is working with police to see if the building’s surveillance camera footage might prove useful in the case.

People in the neighborhood also are doing a good job of keeping an eye out, Bloom said.

“I’m glad it we got it back, and I’m glad they got the guy,” he said. “I hope it sends a message to others that burglary doesn’t pay.”

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com

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