Burglars have struck over half-a-dozen homes and residential properties on Mercer Island over the past week, making off with wiring, copper tubing and medication in addition to cash and jewelry.
Break-ins were reported in mainly mid-Island neighborhoods, including Mercerwood, Merrimount and Ellis Pond/Lucas Heights. Four of five homes were targeted between Dec. 10 and Dec. 16 during daylight hours while the homeowner was at work or had left for an hour or two.
Mercer Island Police detectives say the surge in burglaries is related to a wave of property crime — especially burglaries — affecting several communities on Seattle's Eastside.
MIPD Detective Pete Erickson said he believed most of the burglaries were related and shared a similar traits and evidence. He said the combination of a down economy and the holiday season gives criminals more motivation and opportunity to strike.
"During the holiday season, there's gifts out there on the porch and it gives these people more opportunity to do what they do," he said. "Everybody's getting their butts kicked by burglaries. It's a problem across (law enforcement) agencies on the Eastside."
During the most recent burglary on Dec. 16, burglars broke into a home near the Madrona Crest neighborhood on the 3500 block of 84th Ave. SE at 12:50 p.m. by throwing a rock through the master bedroom french door window. Witnesses said they saw two white men, one in his 20s with a goatee, entering and exiting a red 1980s Nissan pickup truck parked on the right side of SE 35th Street at 1:15 p.m., and "departed promptly" a few minutes later. The owner reported sets of pearl and amytheist earrings, a wrist watch and a charm bracelet stolen from inside.
Erickson said the witnesses waited for a few minutes before calling 911, calling after they noticed the red truck had already left in a hurry.
"I think being aware of what's going on in your neighborhood and if you see something suspicious … something out of place, the key there is to call 911 as soon as possible," he said.
Other burglaries were reported on the 4300 block of 90th Ave SE on Dec. 15, the 9800 block of Mercerwood Drive on Dec. 12, the 8400 block of SE 47th St. on Dec. 12, and the 4300 block of 92nd Ave SE on Dec. 10.
Another burglary, involving tools taken from a secured storage locker at Shorewood Heights Apartments, happened sometime between Nov. 15 - Dec. 11, and the items were reported stolen on Dec. 14.
Two other burglaries were reported from secured residential construction sites when workers returned to find construction equipment missing: On the 4600 block 88th Ave. SE (Dec. 14) and the 4000 block of 83rd Ave SE (Dec. 11).
In a related incident, the Aviara Apartments construction site, reported another theft of $6,000 of copper tubing stolen overnight on Dec. 10-11. It's the third theft of copper pipes from the site in three weeks and losses in excess of $15,000.
"The sooner you call 911, the quicker we can be there," said Erickson.