Three more burglaries have occurred in Brookings over the Christmas holidays, police said Friday morning.
The first, at Vista Pub, involved a break-in last week in which someone got in through an unlocked door and stole the restaurant’s petty cash.
The second occurred in the late hours of Dec. 23 at Wildwood, next door to Vista Pub. Burglars stole an antique cash register and assorted merchandise.
Thursday night, someone threw a rock and broke the glass in the front door of the shop. The owner, Dana Nelson said a witness called police and described the perpetrator as a man wearing all dark clothing. The man fled the scene.
And Thursday morning, the owners of Chet’s Garden Center on Oak Street found someone had apparently used a cart to haul away bags of soil from the back of their shop. They were conducting inventory Friday to determine the loss, said Brookings Lt. Donny Dotson.
Those reports don’t include those of about a half-dozen people who said packages have been stolen from their porches — a crime of opportunity that often coincides with the Christmas holidays.
The thefts follow on the heels of others in the past month, including the burglary of Silver City Coins and Collectibles in which tens of thousands of dollars in rare coins were reported stolen, another at Hemlock Plaza where computers were stolen, and Dan’s Automotive, where cash was stolen.
The perpetrators of the break-ins at Silver City Coin and Hemlock Plaza even returned later to steal what they missed the first time at the coin shop and to take surveillance cameras erected in the office building on Railroad Street.
For Jan Sirchuk, the owner of the office building, it was the third burglary in two weeks, prompting him to hire someone to watch over the property.
Arrests and leads
So, police have been busy, they admitted.
Austin Ganey, 24, of Medford, was arrested in Grants Pass for his part in the alleged theft of guns and jewelry from a relative’s home on Cedar Street in November. He was apprehended after local police put out a bulletin asking regional law enforcement to keep an eye out for his vehicle, Dotson said.
Darrin Weston, 53, of Brookings, was arrested after police received several tips indicating he might have burglarized the Silver City Coin shop. Police obtained a search warrant for his vehicle and recovered some jewelry and coins. Further charges are pending and the investigation continues, said Brookings Police Chief Kelby McCrae.
Shane Ortiz, 47, of Brookings, was arrested in connection with the theft of cash from the register at Vista Pub. Dotson said employees failed to lock up the restaurant after a Christmas party, which enabled Ortiz to enter.
Police are following up on leads in the computer theft from offices at Hemlock Plaza.
“We have a suspect, we’re following up on leads,” Dotson said. “We’ve got some solid information, and we’re just following through, chasing out all the little details.”
Busy, busy, busy
Local police are used to being busy around the holidays, McCrae admitted, but this year, it’s been a little more hectic.
“That’s what’s difficult,” he said. “We have three new officers, two (of whom are) in field training, which means they’re not covering shifts, and one in the academy. A couple are on vacation. And the first week of January, we have testing for an open position. It’s been me, the lieutenant and sergeant covering patrol shifts. With all the calls, and two unattended deaths, it’s stretching us.”
He said investigations are continuing, nonetheless.
“A lot of times these will go in spurts,” McCrae said. “You have someone released from jail, or someone comes up from Crescent City that we’re not familiar with; we have to find them, arrest them — and they’re able to get a few things done before we’re able to build enough evidence for probable cause.
“By then, they can be long gone; they could have gotten rid of the stuff,” he continued. “There’s a lot of challenges, but we’ve arrested the majority of suspects.”