BOTHELL — Like any good burglar, he had a plan.
He knocked on the front door in the middle of the day. If someone answered, he claimed to be collecting donations for charity. He even showed them a receipt book with faked donations from neighbors.
If no one answered, he headed around
back and found a way to wiggle inside.
A prolific Bothell thief, 24, is the suspected ringleader in a string of burglaries in Snohomish and King counties in recent months. Several people from Snohomish County apparently were duped into helping him, investigators say. Even so, two have been arrested and others may join them.
The thief’s plan worked pretty well — until December. That’s when he stole the wrong laptop computer from a home in Medina, west of Bellevue. The laptop was resold several times until an Everett teenager got it for Christmas. The teen fired it up, unknowingly triggering its electronic tracking system.
Medina police landed the case. Lt. Dan Yourkoski has been a busy man ever since.
At last count, the investigation has identified roughly 20 burgled homes, including some here. Police from around Western Washington have called hoping to close their cases, Yourkoski said.
He has a trio of 4-inch-thick binders full of papers related to the investigation. Additional search warrants were filed in King County last month. More arrests are pending, he said Thursday.
As of Friday afternoon, the Bothell man was in custody at the King County Jail. His girlfriend, 20, of Everett, was in the Snohomish County Jail. There is an arrest warrant out for her brother, 24, also of Everett.
Medina police also are investigating a Lake Stevens woman they believe was involved. It appears the Bothell man convinced the others to act as drivers and lookouts, Yourkoski said. He reportedly used them to pawn items so police wouldn’t find his name in the pawnshop databases.
When police contacted the girlfriend in Everett last month, she handed over a jewelry box full of baubles from her boyfriend. Investigators believe most, if not all, of it was stolen.
Her brother also told investigators that he and the Bothell man may have committed as many as 40 burglaries in Snohomish and King counties in December alone.
Three weeks ago, Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies joined Medina police in serving a search warrant at the Bothell man’s home along North Road. A quick look around turned up a stolen gun safe in a backyard shed.
It was only the beginning, Yourkoski said.
The loot so far includes two cars and up to 500 pieces of stolen jewelry, including a $7,000 ring nabbed from an Everett home.
Yourkoski estimates the burglary ring netted up to $200,000 in goods. The thieves sold off the high-end stuff, so most of what is left is costume jewelry.
Police and prosecutors continue to unravel the Bothell man’s trail, Yourkoski said.
His criminal history is messy, but he specializes in property crime, court records show.
Last winter, he pleaded guilty to a 2009 residential burglary in Lynnwood.
He also pleaded guilty in October to possessing a stolen car in Grays Harbor County, according to records. Aberdeen police arrested him in August after they found a car in a motel parking lot. The car was partially spray-painted black. It had been stolen from a burglarized home in Lake Forest Park.
Aberdeen police found the Bothell man nearby with black spray paint on his hands. He was awaiting sentencing in the case when he was arrested in connection with the burglary string out of Medina.
The burglaries remain under investigation, but some cases have been forwarded to King County prosecutors. Medina police haven’t yet decided what charges they’ll recommend.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org