Surveillance video leads to suspects in church burglary

LAKE STEVENS — Police linked two crimes together in Lake Stevens last week thanks to surveillance video and a couple of familiar faces.

The same two fellows are accused of a church burglary July 18 and a joyride in a stolen car July 19, Lake Stevens police Cmdr. Dennis Taylor said.

The men, who are 19 and 21, were arrested in an ongoing investigation.

It was late that Friday night when burglars targeted the youth annex of the Calvary Chapel Lake Stevens on Fourth Street SE.

Church staff knew something was wrong when they walked into the building the next morning and found a cloud of cigarette smoke, said Shane Algard, a pastor and church elder.

Electronics, audio equipment and musical instruments were missing, and there were cigarette butts on the floor, Algard said.

A youth pastor at the church who happens to be a former police officer urged his colleagues to hand over their surveillance video to investigators as soon as possible, Algard said.

The church installed the surveillance system after being the target of previous crimes, Algard said. There were some gasoline thefts, and someone stole a church van that was used for camping trips, outreach programs and youth group outings, including a July 5 fireworks cleanup party.

Among the items stolen in the burglary was the guitar belonging to the leader of the church youth band.

About 500 people attend Sunday services at the nondenominational chapel.

“We go through the word and focus on how Jesus offered salvation through his work he did on the cross,” Algard said. “We share life together here at the church and love one another and try to practice what the Bible teaches.”

Not long after the burglary, Lake Stevens police officer Michael Hingtgen spotted a stolen car in the Tom Thumb grocery store parking lot, Taylor said.

“The officer at the time did not know there had been a burglary,” Taylor said. “He just found them in a stolen car and they went to jail.”

Within a few days, investigators got the surveillance video and shared it with their colleagues, Taylor said.

The recognition was two-fold: Police knew the men on the video from their histories of theft and burglary, and Hingtgen also recognized them from the stolen-car bust.

The pair already were booked in the stolen car case. Police are recommending charges of second-degree burglary and possessing a stolen vehicle.

The church has gotten most of the stuff back.

“The detectives did some good work, and they recovered the property from two different houses in Lake Stevens,” Taylor said.

Police also found a firearm in the stolen goods stash and are working to determine its ownership. One of the young men arrested is a felon already, so he could face illegal gun possession charges, Taylor said.

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

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