North Bend businesses hit by thieves and vandals

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NORTH BEND - Some North Bend business owners have ramped up security devices at their shops after vandals and thieves hit a row of businesses on Mount Si Road, Middle Fork Road and North Bend Way in the last two months.

Multiple businesses on the East end of town have been burglarized. While some of the locations have had problems that go back many months, business owners said that the past two months had a particularly high number of incidents.

"There does seem to be a flare up [of burglaries] in that area," said Joe Hodgson, chief of the King County Sheriff's Office substation in North Bend.

On Oct. 1, J.B. Storage, located on 46925 Middle Fork Road, was reportedly broken into the previous night. A suspect was arrested the following day, but the storage business was hit again on Nov. 21.

The burglaries continued. Sometimes the vandals got away with little more than minor damage and relatively low-cost items. Employees of Tanner Electric, located at 45710 North Bend Way, noticed a fence was cut on Nov. 5. The hole allowed a burglar or burglars to come in and steal some bolt and wire cutters, actions that ended up costing Tanner Electric little more than $700 for fence repair and tool replacement.

MT Electric, 45554 North Bend Way, has been broken into three times in the last couple of months, including one time in November after they had installed a security system. Co-owner Shelly Inman said the burglars have made off with everything from gasoline from the business's trucks to brooms and light bulbs. She estimated the burglars had cost them about $10,000.

"It ticks you off," Inman said.

One of the more audacious crimes was at North Bend Automotive, which was burglarized sometime after closing on Nov. 10. The following morning, employees found that its building had been broken into and ransacked for valuable items, including diagnostic computers that cost about $20,000 to replace.

The perpetrators didn't make out with just the diagnostic equipment. Sometime that same night, they stole keys to all of the cars the business had on its lot. While some of the cars didn't work, or were blocked by other cars, the vandals were able to steal seven cars, including one that belonged to a North Bend Automotive employee.

In the subsequent days, the cars were found dumped all over the Valley and surrounding regions. One car was found upright in the Snoqualmie River.

The episode is puzzling to owner Denny Dennis, who doesn't understand why vandals would be so meticulous about what they took, but so reckless with the seven cars they stole.

"I just don't understand," he said. "It's very weird."

Before that, Dennis said he had been vandalized only once in the four and half years he has been at his location at 43306 North Bend Way. Dennis said he had invested in a better security system, but worried that he location was also a significant factor in his business being burglarized. North Bend Automotive, like the others hit, is located on the east end of town. Dennis said that after 7 p.m. the area is dead, and with the exception of a couple of lamps on the street and his property, completely dark.

Denis Fury, owner of Fury Construction, said his building at 43520 North Bend Way was first broken into eight months ago and he said he has been periodically burglarized since. Growing up in the Valley, Fury said he was raised to not bother locking the door, and he said it has been sad to have to start outfitting his office for the worst.

"Everyone [other business owners] has the same frustration I do," he said

Hodgson said he could not divulge many details about the crimes, but did say they are all part of an ongoing investigation.

Detective Ross Fukuda said the sheriff's office is taking measures to apprehend suspects along with working with other units to police on the case.

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