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A busy night for vandals: Two teens arrested in North Bend theft, fire-setting rampage
Two North Bend boys, ages 14 and 17, were arrested Tuesday, Aug. 7, in connection with an early-morning spree of vandalism across several city blocks.
North Bend Police Chief Toner describes the two-hour rampage as one of the worse cases of vandalism he's seen in the Valley.
"The freedom they felt to assault people's homes and cars—how do you explain it?" he said.
According to police reports by Toner's officers, the spree started some time around 2 a.m. at Si View Park on Orchard Street, where a banister was pulled out of the ground and hurled through a window at Si View Community Center. Between 2 a.m. and 2:15 a.m., sprinklers on the Si View lawn activated, rising from their concealed recesses. Two sprinkler heads were kicked off their mounts.
A Si View van was vandalized, with nasty words, scrawls and symbols scratched into the paint on three sides.
A neighbor's vehicle was sprayed with a thick industrial glue, and mail was stolen from a nearby front porch. Small yard lights were also snatched and smashed.
The suspected vandals allegedly went to a nail salon on North Bend Way, cut open a window screen and went inside, stealing cash and fingernail polish. Next, the North Bend Post Office was hit. Vandals dumped the contents of recycling bins on the floor, covering it in paper.
"You weren't touching tiles when you walked through there," Toner said.
The empty bins were thrown at the ceiling, damaging ceiling panels and light fixtures.
The vandals, Toner said, also visited the North Bend QFC, stealing fruit, which they hurled at nearby parked cars, as well as lighter fluid, matches and firewood. They set a newspaper tube on fire at a home on Downing Street, and lit a wood fire in the grass in front of North Bend Elementary. Around 3:30 a.m., a witness noticed burning trash cans at the North Bend Library.
Around the same time, someone poured lighter fluid, and what police believe to be urine, into three truck gas tanks at the Chaplins North Bend Chevrolet lot, Toner said.
Police started responding to the spree after the 3:30 a.m. phone call regarding the library fires. Ten King County deputies, a patrol sergeant, a Snoqualmie police officer, a canine unit and a fire investigator ultimately responded to the case.
Based on the description of the witness, who noticed two young men fleeing the library, and camera footage from the North Bend QFC, police soon had an idea who they were looking for, Toner said: Two teens, one in a T-shirt and shorts, the other in a print shirt and khaki pants. At 6:30 a.m., an officer found the two suspects in the bushes near Les Schwab Tire.
According to Toner, the boys were cooperative with officers and apologetic for what they had done. They were arrested and booked into King County's Youth Service Center on suspicion of second-degree arson. Police are piecing together the case and talking to victims. More victims may still be unidentified, Toner said.
He estimated that the spree caused $10,000 in damages.
Investigators have compiled a list of 11 misdemeanors and three felonies in the incident, and are considering forwarding charges including burglary, arson, reckless burning and felony malicious mischief to the county's juvenile prosecution office.
Toner describes the spree as a series of crimes of opportunity, not profit—although the two suspects reportedly kept the stolen cash and nail polish.
"I don't know that they were going to light those trucks on fire" at Chaplins, he added. "But if they did, we could have lost a city block."
If the fire at the library hadn't been spotted, police might not have been notified and reacted until much later in the morning.
For Toner, the lessons from the spree are those of vigilance: North Bend residents should keep their eyes and ears open for unusual activity, and report it to police.
• To report a crime, call 9-1-1. You can contact the North Bend Police substation at (425) 296-2612, or the Snoqualmie Police Department at (425) 888-3333.