MONROE — A Kirkland man admitted to about 50 quick-hit burglaries at small businesses throughout King and Snohomish counties, according to new charging papers filed in Seattle.
Many of those break-ins were allegedly carried out with another culprit from King County, who is accused of teaching the Kirkland man how to punch out windows, race for the cash register and make a quick getaway.
Prosecutors allege the Seattle man, 21, was on “a months-long, smash-and-grab burglary spree that spans jurisdictions and apparently is interrupted only when he is in jail,” which is where he sits now.
This week, police named the Seattle man as a suspect in 10 burglaries in one night in Monroe, saying his fingerprint was found at a crime scene.
Police around Snohomish County had added up at least 21 other smash-and-grabs that damaged nail salons, teriyaki restaurants and other shops along I-5, over a six-week span over the summer. The thieves worked by night — sometimes one masked man was spotted on camera, sometimes two. Often they got nothing, but each time, a business was stuck with a hefty repair bill.
One row of Kirkland storefronts — an insurance agent, an Indian restaurant and a cafe — had been struck in early June. A fingerprint on an office drawer came back as an apparent match to the Seattle man, who already had a record of burglary convictions from that past year. From the fingerprint, police in King County knew his name as early as July 6.
He was arrested early July 14, for investigation of a crime spree near Silver Lake. He was caught moments after a break-in, sitting in a stolen van at a nearby Chevron, with a window punching tool on a front seat, according to charging papers. Broken glass was found in his shoe. A baggie of crystals in his backpack tested positive for methamphetamine.
Snohomish County prosecutors charged him with three counts of burglary. He posted $10,000 bond on the evening of Aug. 10.
Hours later, employees at a Lynnwood salon arrived to find the glass front door of the businesses had been punched out.
Quick heists continued to add up over the next two months.
A nail salon in Bothell on Aug. 13.
A nail salon in Lynnwood on Aug. 18.
A storage facility and a sewing and vacuum business in Issaquah on Aug. 19, where the Seattle man was arrested three blocks away, with pieces of broken glass in the bottom of his cuffed pants.
He posted $25,000 bail to get out of the King County lockup Aug. 24.
After a weekend hiatus, the break-ins began again.
Another nail salon in Bothell and a hair salon in Mill Creek on Aug. 27.
A nail salon in south Everett and a nail salon in Mill Creek on Aug. 29, where the thief escaped with $3 in change. The broken glass cost $800.
The Kirkland man, 30, was arrested on 19 felony counts Sept. 8. He was held in jail until he posted bond Oct. 1. There was a lull in the spree.
Ten business owners in Monroe awoke to find they’d fallen victim to a glass-smashing burglar on Sept. 28. The thief left a trail of about $6,000 in damage.
Last week, police caught up to the Seattle man after yet another spree. His girlfriend’s car appeared on camera early Oct. 5, at the scene of a burglary of a Thai restaurant in Sammamish, according to charging papers. Less than an hour later, security footage in Redmond showed the same car at another break-in, at an Indian restaurant. Cell tower records allegedly placed the girlfriend’s phone moving from one crime scene to the other.
Both the Seattle man and his girlfriend were arrested that day.
King County prosecutors charged the man this week with four counts of burglary, one count of attempted burglary, trafficking in stolen property and possessing methamphetamine.
As he waited in jail, a state crime lab finished testing key evidence.
The thief had cut himself in early July, while breaking into a Vietnamese restaurant in Kirkland. DNA swabs from blood on a table leg matched the Seattle man, according to charges filed Thursday afternoon.
In the Monroe heists, an evidence technician was able to lift a fingerprint from one of the cash registers. The crime lab found it matched the Seattle man, too, police announced late Thursday.
Police are still piecing together how many crimes may be tied to the two men.
One day in a jail interview, the Seattle man told police he “did not care about what he was doing and said he would take a global resolution when it was all done,” meaning he expected to take a plea deal to reduce the number of charges and the amount of time behind bars, according to court papers. He would not admit to burglary, but a detective wrote the man couldn’t explain why his fingerprints were at the scene of a crime.
The Seattle man remained in jail Friday, with bail set at $225,000.