Whidbey Island residents concerned about increasing crime

WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash. -- Residents all over Whidbey Island have been talking about the surveillance video that shows a masked man with a shotgun robbed the Valero gas station at Bayview on Dec. 4.

“Just the idea we could have been getting gas at the time,” says Rubi Hicks. “The kids could have witnessed it.”

“That someone would rob a gas station with a shotgun is pretty unusual around here,” adds Lackey Harrison.

This may have been the most brazen crime in recent memory, but it’s not the only crime. Island County sheriff’s detectives say they have been staying busy, responding to calls in residential neighborhoods around the island.

“We’ve had an increase in burglaries over this time last year,” says detective Ed Wallace. “Our north precinct is up 19 from this time last year. Our south precinct is more, maybe 20-25.”

For a small community that’s used to feeling like they don’t have the problems of the big cities, it’s a concern.

“It wasn’t so much the first time,” says Elizabeth Chalfant. “But now that there have been repetitive burglaries, I’m a little bit worried.”

Detectives say crime may be increasing, because they don’t have the manpower they used to.

“We have not been able to do pro-active drug work for several years due to budget cuts,” says Wallace. “We’ve seen the correlation in drug enforcement or lack of it, and the increase in property crimes.”

They’re advising residents to be more aware.

“I will say I’m taking more caution about locking my door when I leave,” says Chalfant.

“It’s kind of unfortunately the times we live in,” says Hicks.