Bellingham, Burlington cops seek link in recent armed robberies

An armed robbery at a Burlington doughnut store this weekend might be linked to four armed robberies in Bellingham, according to police.

Over the past month employees of four small Bellingham restaurants — pizza, meat pies and, twice, coffee — reported they were robbed at gunpoint by a middle-aged white man in dark, heavy clothes.

“People call us saying they see someone who matches that description,” said Bellingham Police Lt. Bob Vander Yacht. “But, well, it’s cold out right now, so he looks like everyone.”

Police don’t have proof all four Bellingham holdups are linked. However, “there’s nothing to suggest they aren’t connected,” Vander Yacht said. All of the Bellingham heists were committed at night, toward closing time. Twice the robber was seen fleeing on a bike; the victims didn’t see how the man got away.

On Sunday afternoon, Nov. 30, in Skagit County, a white man came into Lafeen’s Donuts, 320 N. Burlington Blvd, and flashed “what appeared to be a weapon” around 1:30 p.m., according to a Burlington police press release. The man demanded cash and got into a scuffle with one of the workers before he ran outside. The man had gray hair, and he wore aviator-style sunglasses, a dark overcoat with a black sweatshirt underneath, and dark shoes. He had a gold ring on the middle finger of his left hand. (Burlington police declined to comment beyond the press release, and the business did not respond to a reporter’s message.)

Vander Yacht noted the timing of that robbery, midday, didn’t match the Bellingham cases. Also, most of the Bellingham victims described the robber as about 5-foot-8 to 5-foot-10; the man in Burlington was a few inches taller, perhaps 6-foot-2. But other things add up, inlcuding the suspect description, his clothes, and the type of quick-stop food service he targeted.

Police are looking for the public’s help to figure out if the crimes have a common thread.

Here’s a refresher on the Bellingham cases

-- A man in a Groucho Marx-style mask came in through the back door of Westside Pizza, 4260 Cordata Parkway, around 9:50 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 6. Two young men working at the time were ordered to the ground at gunpoint. A third employee handed over the cash. The man took their keys, too, then left them outside. The store manager hesitantly described the man’s demeanor as “polite” and “professional.” For one thing, he explained he wouldn’t steal their cars; their keys were left outside. The man was white with grayish facial hair; he wore heavy, dark clothes and military boots. He walked out through the front door. Police suspect he jumped onto a dark mountain bike.

-- A man in a red raincoat robbed Man Pies, 1215 Railroad Ave., at 8:04 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 9. He came in through the back door, brandished a gun and took cellphones from the two employees on duty. He grabbed cash from the register before fleeing out the back door. Police found his clothes ditched nearby.


-- An armed robber — white, in his 50s, about 5-foot-8, dressed in all black, with a backpack on — struck I Wana Moka, 3100 Old Fairhaven Parkway, around 5:50 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 26, the day before Thanksgiving. Afterward he told the barista to run. She didn’t see what direction he fled.

-- An armed man in dark clothes and sunglasses burst into Zoom Zoom Espresso, 845 Lincoln St., around 5 p.m. on Black Friday, Nov. 28. The barista, Jeneya Rommel, told KIRO 7 the man said, “I wanna mocha,” before he aimed a gun at her and a customer. He ordered the customer to the ground. The robber stuffed the money into a colorful Trader Joe’s reusable shopping bag. Police suspect he fled north on a dark mountain bike, but officers, police dogs and a U.S. border helicopter could not find him. Click here for our earlier story.

A third Bellingham coffee shop robbery, from late Wednesday, isn’t connected.

Call Detective Dan Kelsh, 360-778-8690, if you have a tip that could lead to arrest. Anonymous tips can be directed to 360-778-8611.