Ketchikan has experienced a higher-than-normal number of burglaries since the start of 2018. City police have tallied eight commercial and five residential burglaries from mid-January through mid-March.
Arrests have been made in some of those crimes, but for most, the perpetrators are unknown.
Ketchikan Police Sgt. Andy Berntson said the first burglary this year was Jan. 10th at Good Fortune Restaurant on Creek Street.
“Forced entry, food items were taken and at this point there’s no suspects,” he said.
On Jan. 12th, the vacant building at No. 2 Creek Street was broken into and household items were taken. Berntson said there are no suspects in that case, either.
On Jan. 13th, Dwyer’s Crab and Fish Co. restaurant was hit.
“Stolen items included alcohol. And then three adult suspects have been identified and charged,” Berntson said.
Jan. 17th, there was a residential burglary on Buren Road.
“Forced entry was made and four marijuana plants were stolen,” he said. “No suspects have been identified.”
On Jan. 29th, Donna Sunchasers on Tongass Avenue was broken into. Berntson said cash, a computer and electronics were taken. Nobody has been charged in that case.
Jan. 31st, a business on Hopkins Alley was hit. Cash and firearms were taken.
“At this point, we developed some suspects based on recovering one of the firearms in a recent drug investigation, so that is still pending,” Berntson said.
Feb. 8th, Coastal Real Estate was burglarized. Cash and other items were taken, and there are no suspects. Feb. 11th, Fat Stan’s bar was broken into an alcohol stolen. Berntson said three juveniles and one adult face charges in that case.
On Feb. 14th, there was a forced-entry residential burglary on Fourth Avenue.
“Stolen items included jewelry, tools and personal items from that residence,” he said. “Three adult subjects have been charged in reference to that case.”
Feb. 15th, a home burglary occurred on Heckman Street. Jewelry and other items were taken and so far there have been no arrests. Feb. 28th, a different home on Heckman Street was broken into. Berntson said that was a domestic-assault incident and charges have been filed.
On March 3rd, a home on East Fifth Street was burglarized. Various electronic items were taken, and there are no suspects. And then on March 8th, someone broke into First City Saloon.
“Stolen items included cigarettes, alcohol, cash,” he said. “There have been no charges filed.”
Berntson said the number of residential burglaries in Ketchikan tends to fluctuate, so five is not necessarily up from normal levels. He said those types of burglaries often involve friends or family members of the resident.
“A lot of times if a person will be arrested, especially if they’re in that drug culture, that drug world, as soon as that person is tucked away in jail, all their ‘friends’ come out of the woodwork and decide to help themselves to the home,” he said. “That sort of thing is a lot more normal.”
The overall number of commercial burglaries, though, is definitely higher than normal for the City of Ketchikan, although Berntson didn’t have specific numbers from previous years.
He said some of these crimes are likely drug related: perpetrators looking for items they can sell or trade for drugs.
“These habits cost people hundreds of dollars a day,” he said. “Even with a full-time job, that’s something most people can’t afford. So, people that are forced into that lifestyle, they don’t have another way of making money, they often turn to selling drugs themselves or have to find another way such as breaking into businesses and homes and finding items of value they can turn into drugs.”
Berntson said keeping homes and businesses locked up with plenty of outside lighting is helpful.
“But is just seems like that’s a little less of a deterrent these days,” he said. “So, a lot of people are investing in surveillance systems. Cameras these days are very good for a very reasonable price. They’re helping people a lot. Unfortunately a lot of these businesses are learning the hard way that’s probably what they should be going to.”
Because in the long run, he said, it’ll be worth the investment.