Police nab 2 suspected scrap metal thieves

EVERETT — Two suspected scrap metal thieves were behind bars Thursday after inglorious arrests.

The first was taken into custody after having his hands and ankles zip-tied by a night watchman at a Monroe masonry business early Wednesday morning; the second, soaked and covered in mud, was arrested after a police dog sniffed him out beneath a shed in Snohomish about six hours later.

Monroe police believe the pair broke into a closed-down masonry building in the 13800 block of Fryelands Boulevard early Wednesday morning. The property owner added security after thieves had been breaking in to strip machinery and wiring to sell as scrap, officials said.

The watchman told police he was attacked in the dark while he was walking around some heavy machinery.

He described how he was grabbed by the back of the head and shoved to the ground. He also indicated that one of the assailants had a knife and pruning shears.

The watchman said one of the men ran away and he was able to subdue the second man, 51.

Police described finding the suspect “lying on the ground in a pool of blood” and trussed up with zip ties, court records said. The suspect, identified as a Sultan man, apparently was unconscious when officers arrived, but regained consciousness. Monroe medics drove him to Providence Regional Medical Center Everett where he was examined before being taken to the Snohomish County Jail.

The watchman reported soreness on the top of this head and his wrists, court records said. He also had cuts on his left knee.

When police initially asked the suspect the identity of his accomplice, he readily provided them a name. The accused man had an air-tight alibi. He already was in prison.

Shortly after 10:15 a.m. on Wednesday, police in downtown Snohomish spotted a man carrying a brown jacket walking down the street. He was wet and caked in mud from the waist down. Officer Larry Cole, aware the area near the Monroe masonry was swampy in the winter, tried to stop him.

“When Larry saw him, he thought, ‘This might be the second guy,’” Snohomish Police Chief John Flood said. “We knew he was dirty. It comes down to officers just being aware of their surroundings and what’s out of place.”

The suspect ran.

Bruno, a Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office dog, and his handler deputy Adam Fortney quickly tracked the man to a shed in the 400 block of Pearl Avenue.

The suspect squeezed under an 8 to 10 inch gap beneath the shed in an attempt to hide. In the process, he bumped and cut his head.

When the man, 32, was asked why he fled, he said he always runs from police, court papers said.

Snohomish police first arrested the man for obstruction. He denied knowing the other burglary suspect.

When police were trying to confirm the identity of the man sniffed out under the shed, they found a Facebook link with a photo of both suspects and a baby.

The younger man wore a black cap with a white Puma logo in the photo.

At the masonry building, police found three stuffed backpacks, a broken watch, a screwdriver, eye glasses and a black cap with a white Puma logo.

The older suspect later told police that they were trying to steal copper wire from the masonry building.

He also said that he was “fatter and slower” than his companion and got caught by the watchman.

Monroe police said they were thankful for the help from Snohomish police and the sheriff’s office.

“Like a lot of communities, we are battling burglars like crazy these days,” Monroe police spokeswoman Debbie Willis said. “We just don’t expect them to be 51 years old.”

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; stevick@heraldnet.com

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