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


Camera catches burglary suspect


Haines Borough Police arrested a 22-year-old man Monday following a break-in at the local landfill and theft of $200.

Police charged the Haines man Tuesday with felony burglary and three misdemeanors, including third-degree theft, fourth-degree criminal mischief and violating conditions of release.

The same man was arrested in November and charged with stealing nearly $200 from lockers at the pool.

According to court documents, Community Waste Solutions staff reported early Monday morning the door to the business’s office had been pried open and about $200 in cash was missing from the safe.  

Interim police chief Simon Ford reviewed a video from a surveillance camera installed at the site and saw the man attempting to open three windows on the side of the office Sunday night. “After several minutes of trying the windows, he wandered over to the shop area and rummaged around until he found a tool to bust the door’s lock,” Ford said.  The wood around the lock was splintered, he said.

The only gate allowing access to the landfill was locked, as the business is closed on Sundays.

On Monday, Ford contacted the man at his home. He admitted taking $160 from CWS, but said he no longer had the money.

The man was also convicted on theft charges in 2009 and 2012.

The man made his first court appearance Tuesday. Magistrate John Hutchins set bail at $5,000 or a third-party custodian. The court must approve the third-party custodian suggested by the defendant.

“Of course, he is innocent until proven guilty, but he performed all of this activity in the presence of a security video surveillance system, so it’s a pretty strong case,” Ford said. “After working on this investigation, if I owned a business, I would install some cameras.”

CWS owner Tom Hall said the company installed the cameras within the past year after experiencing a couple break-ins. “There were a number of break-ins, but nothing much was stolen,” he said.

Hall said he essentially forgot the cameras had even been installed until the burglary. “I didn’t think a whole lot about them until this happened... It’s definitely a good investment,” he said.

The number of theft reports rose from 57 in 2012 to 76 in 2013, but Ford said he doesn’t see a real upward trend in the numbers, since the car break-in spree during the summer of 2013 accounted for much of the increase.

“I wouldn’t say that it’s necessarily a ‘trend’ once you factor that incident out, but definitely concerning as we’re seeing the same folks repeatedly for the same thing.  I hope we are able to prosecute the open theft cases we have now so the message is sent out that getting through life by stealing from others is a bad philosophy,” he said.

A felony burglary conviction carries a maximum sentence of $50,000 in fines and five years in jail. The theft and criminal mischief misdemeanor charges carry a maximum sentence of $10,000 in fines and one year in jail, while violating conditions of release conviction can be punished with a maximum of $2,000 in fines and 90 days in jail.

As of Tuesday, the man remained in custody at the Haines jail.