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Search for burglary suspects puts people on alert; residents advised to check peddlers' licenses
A big blue truck and an average white male have become important leads in a Snoqualmie Police burglary investigation. The leads came from a group of watchful neighbors May 2, when police were called to a report of a suspicious character in the 8600 block of Leitz Street around 7:45 p.m., and found evidence of a break-in.
Neighbors told the police they’d seen the suspect, described as a 5-foot-11, 200-pound caucasian man, walk out of the yard of a home, and get into the passenger side of a blue full-sized pickup truck. When police checked out the home, they found a window at the back of the house was open, presumably left open by the thief when he broke in.
One witness said he’d seen the same man walking in the 9500 block of Elm Avenue earlier in the day. That block was the scene of another apparent break-in attempt, less than two hours earlier the same day. On that call, around 6 p.m., police discovered that a house window had been pried open, but nothing was taken from the home.
Police have identified this man as a suspect, and are searching for him, as well as the driver of the truck. The crimes they could be charged with are Class B felonies, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000. Anyone with information about the man or the truck is asked to call 911.
He is not considered a danger to residents, just their property.
"There has been no violence, and no violence in his history," Munson said.
Roughly $30,000 worth of items were reportedly stolen from the home on Leitz Street, but nothing was reported stolen from the Elm Avenue incident. Neighbors are on high alert and treating the episodes seriously.
“A lot of residents out here don't think that a lot of crime happens,” said Snoqualmie Police Department spokesperson Becky Munson, “and it doesn’t.”
Usually, it doesn’t. Since March, Snoqualmie Police have investigated just four burglary reports in the city of almost 11,000, but all of them have been at Snoqualmie Ridge, prompting residents to publicly ask, on the Snoqualmie community Yahoo group, if there’s a crime spree going on.
Also, some are saying there were five burglaries, not four.
Without specifying the location, Munson said there had been another call recently. “We responded to an alarm call. I'm not going to say where, and the neighbors have a difference of opinion as to what happened.”
Police do not consider that incident a break-in. The other two incidents being investigated were reported April 21 – someone broke a garage window and stole golf clubs during the night in the 6900 block of Fairway Avenue Southeast, and March 16 – someone broke a sliding glass door, around 9:30 a.m. in the 8800 block of Venn Southeast, for a $13,000 loss. So, is it a trend? “I don't think so. I think every year we have people that come through the area, and do a couple of burglaries, then leave,” Munson said.
Each incident is being investigated separately, except for the events of May 2, which are clearly related, Munson said. Officers pool information, she added, and if they find evidence connecting the incidents, or future incidents that share similarities with the May 2 events, they will be investigated together.
So far, the only hallmarks of the May 2 incidents are “People saw them at the front door, and they saw them leaving the yard, and there were broken windows in the back," Munson said.
It’s not clear if the suspect had posed as a door-to-door salesman, Munson said. However, in the last few weeks, several citizens have reported to the Yahoo group about suspicious people knocking on doors and posing as salespeople, presumably to get a look inside the homes.
"I wish that we could get out there somehow, not to open your door to anybody," said Kym Smith, officer supervisor at the North Bend Sheriff's substation. "If you don't know them, don't open the door."
Smith says parents are always advising their children to follow this advice, but they don't follow it themselves.
So, if you've already opened the door, Smith has another suggestion: Ask to see their business license, and tell them to leave if they don't have one.
"If you've got somebody running around trying to sell you something, they have to have a peddler's license, or a solicitor's permit, or something from the city," she said.
Susie Oppedal, North Bend City Clerk, explained that, with few exceptions, everyone who sells product or collects money within city limits, needs a $35 annual business license ($25 for each year following). Peddlers who go door to door must also buy a $50 quarterly solicitor's license, and pay for a $10 screening for each person who will sell under that license.
"They have to have their business license with them," she added.
Snoqualmie also requires all businesses to be licensed. The city's rate for business licenses varies with the number of employees, from $25 for up to two employees, to $500 for more than 100 employees. Door-to-door salespeople also must have a $35 solicitor's license, good for seven days.
More information on city requirements for solicitors is available at:North Bend Municipal Code Chapter 5.16 (http://www.codepublishing.com/wa/northbend) and Snoqualmie Municipal Code Chapter 5.36 (http://www.mrsc.org/wa/snoqualmie/index_dtsearch.html)