Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


Burglary spree: 28 cars rifled downtown


Haines Borough Police on Wednesday retrieved dozens of items believed to have been stolen during a downtown burglary spree Monday night.

Police say 28 vehicles were burgled on Lynnview Drive, Young Road, Union Street, Deishu Drive, Front Street and other areas. Stolen items include cash, credit cards, prescription medication, tools, binoculars, stereo equipment, electronics cords, cameras, firearm ammunition and driver’s licenses.

Among items recovered from a white Chevy Malibu parked in a Main Street lot were five car radios, cameras, binoculars, knives, electronic devices, two bottles of liquor, power boosters, DVDs and a marijuana pipe.

Police obtained a warrant to search the car around 6 p.m. Wednesday. Ownership of the car is in the process of changing hands, police said.

None of the cars broken into Monday night were locked, said interim police chief Simon Ford. “So far whoever is doing this hasn’t physically broken into the vehicles to get what they want. They’re just going through ones that are unsecured,” he said.

Interim Sgt. Jason Rettinger said it appears two people were working together on the break-ins.

“A lot of these things that were taken out of peoples’ vehicles they found a couple yards away in the woods. It’s like they’re just being jerks. They’re not stealing with intent to do anything with it other than just make a mess,” Rettinger said.

Many of the vehicles had keys in them, though none of the vehicles were moved or stolen, Rettinger said.  

Lynnview Drive resident Candi Bradford got in her car Tuesday to go for her morning coffee, and discovered $200 missing from the vehicle when she went to pay for the drink. When Bradford returned home, she saw a neighbor talking with the police.

Three of Bradford’s vehicles, two parked in the driveway and one on the street, had been rifled. The glove compartments were open, items were strewn across the seats and one of the doors wasn’t completely shut.

In addition to the cash, tools were missing from her husband’s truck.

“I’ve lived in Haines my entire life, and I’ve never had any problems. I’ve never locked anything. I guess I better start,” Bradford said.

Lois Wickward, Bradford’s Lynnview Drive neighbor, also was hit. Someone ransacked the glove compartment and center console, stealing a pair of $300 Nikon binoculars from the vehicle that was parked about two feet from her home’s door.

Wickward said she never locks her car doors in Haines. “When we go to big cities like Juneau, we lock them. But at home in front of your house? No.”

Police officers and wildlife trooper Ken VanSpronsen searched two residences Tuesday looking for the stolen goods.Police did not need a warrant, as the property owners gave permission for the officers to enter.

Officers have been snapping photos, interviewing victims and witnesses, and securing other evidence, Rettinger said.

“I’ve got a couple of people that I need to interview that saw a couple kids walking around at 4:30 in the morning with backpacks. I need to get a good description and nail this down a little tighter,” he said.

Rettinger suspects the people involved are teenagers or young adults.

Though locking doors in a small community like Haines is an uncommon practice, Rettinger said it was just a matter of time before something like this started to make residents more wary of their neighbors.

“Welcome to the 21st century. Eventually it was going to catch up to Haines. It just took a little longer.”