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Burglaries and meth went hand-in-hand

PORT ORCHARD — As the investigation into the North End burglaries and car prowls is ongoing, the alleged motive is the only thing that’s clear-cut.

“The property was being stolen from victims and either being sold through underground sources or being traded, typically for narcotics,” said Scott Wilson, public information officer for the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office.

The drug of choice for the alleged thieves was methamphetamine, he said. That particular drug has been forced further underground and has become more expensive for users after the state legislature passed restrictions on purchasing a pseudoephedrine in 2005. Pseudoephedrine, a common ingredient in over-the-counter cold medication, is used to produce methamphetamine.

Sheriff’s deputies are working hand-in-hand with Kitsap County’s WestNET Drug Task Force and Meth Lab Response Team on the investigation.

What’s also clear is that the burglaries weren’t the result of an organized ring, but were allegedly a “loose consortium of people who all knew each other or associated with each other,” Wilson said.

On Feb. 22-23, the agencies made five arrests and recovered about $75,000 in property stolen from residents in the North End and on Bainbridge Island. Deputies arrested Paul Woods, 23, of Suquamish; Michael McCarroll, 31, of Poulsbo; Steven McGuire, 25, of Poulsbo; Lois Ewing, 43, of Poulsbo; and Tina Wallace, 32, of Suquamish. While all are facing charges of either identity theft or possession of stolen property, none have been charged with burglary, as there is not yet sufficient evidence to suggest they were actually in the homes at the time of the burglaries, Wilson said.

Among the evidence recovered was a list of subscribers to the Kitsap Sun, according to a press release from the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office. Woods was a route carrier for the Kitsap Sun, and the group was allegedly using subscribers’ vacation information to target some of the homes.

The sheriff’s office is dealing with an influx of calls from people who were recently burglarized and are trying to reclaim their property. Wilson advises those who were burglarized to have information about their stolen property — a good description, or make, model and serial number — handy before calling.

It’s cases like these that highlight the importance of keeping track of serial numbers and other important information, said WestNET Sgt. Carlos Rodriguez. “Checking serial numbers in the database helps people get their possessions back.”

Rodriguez said it’s common for property crimes to have a narcotics tie-in.

“What we see over and over again is that people with these addictions need ways to feed their addictions, and stealing things is a frequent occurrence,” Rodriguez said.

Wilson said investigators are still searching for four people they believe to be involved with the break-ins. Their names are being withheld pending arrest warrants.

Victims of the home burglaries, or anyone with information about the crimes, can contact Detective Steve Duckworth at (360) 337-5669 or Detective Lori Blankenship at (360) 337-6516.

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