Sitka is experiencing a rare sweep of nighttime burglaries, affecting local organizations.
In the past three months, there have been six separate burglaries that follow a similar pattern.
Sitka Police Chief Jeff Ankerfelt said the suspects have been using a crowbar to break into businesses in the early morning hours and stealing cash, either loose or in small safes. He added, “One thing of note in particular is that the businesses that have been hit have not had video or alarm systems, so it appears whoever is doing this is aware of that.”
The Sitka Police Department has made arrests in two of those burglaries: Jeffrey Baxter, age 28, stole bus cash from Sitka Tribe of Alaska’s offices. Derek Daly, age 27, stole over $4000 in cash from the Seafood Producers Coop. Both men were indicted by a Sitka Grand Jury for burglary and theft. Baxter was also indicted with Misconduct Involving a Controlled Substance, after Sitka Police found methamphetamine in his residence.
Four cases remain unsolved. The Sitka Sentinel reported a break-in November 14th, 2016 and over $500 in cash missing. On January 25th, 2017 the Sitka Sound Science Center reported their safe taken, containing a small amount of cash. On January 28th, Sitka Trail Works reported a break-in, but nothing missing. And this morning (02-03-17), a small amount of cash was taken from Northern Credit Services.
While no arrests have been made in these four cases, the Sitka Police Department has charges pending against two suspects. In a press release issued today, SPD said it’s likely the burglars are involved with drug activity and are trying to fund their use.
Ankerfelt says one detective and several officers are on the case and they’ve collected both video evidence and physical evidence, including fingerprints and a shoe print. “We work closely with many members in the community that might be able to find us some information with people involved in this kind of activity. We’re just chasing down all of those leads. We’re confident – I’m confident – that we’re going to catch the person or persons that are involved in this,” Ankerfelt said.
In the meantime, Ankerfelt advises businesses to install good lighting, alarms, and video recording – with a visible camera. “Finally, always make sure that if you have any cash in the business, to take it home with you. Or take it to the bank or wherever you’d like to. That’s a good thing to do,” Ankerfelt said.
To report information about these and any other crimes, call the Sitka Police Department at 747-3245 or use their anonymous crime line at 747-8980.