Police say the investigation of a January burglary led them to recover even more stolen property than they had expected, valuing more than $16,000.
Joseph Gaudette, 35, of Bellingham, was booked into the Whatcom County Jail on April 20, according to jail records. He’s been charged with first-degree trafficking stolen property.
Charges say someone broke into a fenced yard at Joostens Roofing Inc. on the night of Jan. 6 and stole “various pieces of roofing equipment,” including a welder valued at $5,350.
The victim later told police he thought he saw the welder posted on eBay. Investigators, using the serial number seen in photos on the eBay listing, determined the welder was indeed the one that had been stolen, and contacted the Blaine man who was registered on the account, charges say.
The man told police he had not used the account in years, but allowed Gaudette to use it. According to court records, police knew that Gaudette regularly had tools and other equipment and believed he took the items in exchange for drugs, then sold them online.
The welder was eventually sold to a man in Albuquerque, N.M. When officers contacted the buyer, he agreed to hand over the welder to the police department.
Police arrested Gaudette at his home at 624 N. Forest St. while serving a search warrant. Officers have gone to the home “dozens of times” since spring 2016, police said, for calls that included drug and weapons offenses, stolen property reports and code violations.
While at the home, officers also found other items, police said: high-end bike frames, electronics, tools and construction equipment, a snowboard and a firearm. Meth, heroin, cash and “other evidence of the sale and use of illegal drugs” were also seized, police said.
Most of those items – about $10,000 worth – have been confirmed as stolen, police said. Investigators believe the remaining $6,000 worth of property is also stolen, and are trying to find the owners.
The investigation, police said, was the work of Bellingham Police Department’s property crimes unit, which was reformed in January after staff cuts in 2008, police said. Since January, investigators have recovered and returned nearly $15,000 worth of stolen property, according to the department.