Property crime task force focuses on north Snohomish County crooks

MONROE, Wash. -- Several law enforcement agencies in north Snohomish County are coming together to crack down on crime. Their focus: burglars and package thieves who repeatedly victimize homeowners.

This pilot program is designed to lock up some of Snohomish County's most prolific offenders.

Investigators said an epidemic of heroin addiction is what's fueling burglaries across the county.

They also said those same crooks don't just stop at burglary – usually ID theft, car theft, and fraud are also connected to the same suspects. Thanks to the new program, thieves and burglars are now under extra scrutiny.

“It gives us a lot more teeth for establishing probable cause and possibly bumping up charges for some of these crooks,” said Shari Ireton, with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.

Two recovered pigs are the program's first success story. Investigators said they were able to return them to their rightful owners before they were slaughtered.

“We're not only stopping the burglaries and the property theft, we're stopping a lot of other crimes as well,” said Ireton.

Ray Ellis said someone has repeatedly burglarized his Bollenbaugh Hill Road garage for several weeks, but surveillance cameras finally caught the suspect in the act.

“He kind of looks at the camera, fortunately,” said Ellis.

Ellis' neighbor, Debra Kolrud, wasn't waiting for a property crime unit to form. She created an online burglary watchdog group page about a year ago page to keep track of incidents nearby.

She posted photos of Ellis’ most recent burglary, and thanks to more than 1,300 users, she said, the tips are already pouring in to police.

“I'd just like to clean up the town, I mean, I've been living here for 50 years and you 'd like to grab hold of our town back and get the crime out of here,” said Kolrud.

Both the Stillaguamish and Tulalip tribes are also joining the new task force. While the program is focused mainly in the north end of the county, neighbors hope it will go countywide when the pilot ends next year.