Suspect in Bellingham burglary tried to run before arrest at motel, police say

Police caught a man as he tried to run from a motel room Thursday evening on suspicion he burglarized a home earlier that day, the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office said.

Dustin James LaFrancis, 38, who does not have a permanent address, was arrested at the Villa Inn motel, 202 N. Samish Way, around 5 p.m., Whatcom County Undersheriff Jeff Parks said.

LaFrancis was booked into Whatcom County Jail around 6:40 p.m. on suspicion of residential burglary, second-degree theft, possessing stolen property and possessing heroin, according to jail records.

His arrest stemmed from a report of a burglary at a home on the 600 block of Chuckanut Drive around 3 p.m. Thursday, Parks said. A caretaker who lives part time at the home called 911 to report a suspicious vehicle on the property along with two men and two women he didn’t recognize.

“They gave kind of a phony excuse for being there and then left,” Parks said.

The caretaker used his cellphone to take photos of the vehicle before returning to the home. There, he reported finding a TV sitting outside the house and other things either out of place or missing, Parks said.

Using the man’s photos of the vehicle, deputies found the car’s registered owner, who told authorities it had been recently sold to LaFrancis. Deputies then tracked LaFrancis to a room at the Villa Inn, where they found the car.

When deputies arrived, LaFrancis tried to get away through a window at the back of the room, but was caught by a deputy and arrested without further incident, Parks said. Bellingham police assisted with the arrest, Parks said.

No one else was arrested in connection with the burglary, Parks added, but the case remains under investigation.

Kyle Mittan: 360-756-2803, @KyleMittan