Squalicum Harbor is home to 1,400 boats in Bellingham Bay
Being in the right place at the right time helped Bellingham police arrest a suspect in a boat burglary last week, but they said there is no way at this point to determine whether the man they arrested was responsible for a recent string of reported incidents at Squalicum Harbor.
Isaiah Michael Owen, 35, was booked into Whatcom County Jail on Sunday, June 23, on suspicion of first-degree attempted theft, third-degree malicious mischief and third-degree possession of stolen property. Jail records show he was released on $10,000 bail on Wednesday, June 26.
According to information provided to The Bellingham Herald by Lt. Claudia Murphy, officers were at the harbor on Roeder Avenue, investigating a boat break-in at approximately 11:30 p.m. Sunday when two people approached and told them that the person they believed was responsible for an attempted theft of their bicycles a night earlier was currently in the parking lot.
They told the officers that at approximately 3 a.m. on June 22, they heard noises that sounded like someone was trying to remove their bicycles off the back of their RV. When they looked outside, they reported that they saw Owen wearing a headlamp and with a flashlight in his mouth attempting to steal a pair of bicycles with a combined value of $7,500.
While Owen was attempting to steal the bicycle, the people reported he caused approximately $300 in damage to the bike rack.
Officers found Owen seated in his car, Murphy said. While doing so, they reportedly saw what appeared to be a handgun next to Owen.
If turned out to be a BB gun that didn’t have the orange markings designating it as such, Murphy said.
As the officers looked into Owen’s car, Murphy said they saw a first aid kit with specific markings that tied it to the boat burglary that they had initially come to the harbor to investigate. That burglary occurred between June 18 and June 23, and Murphy said it was one of 10 that have been reported at the harbor in the past six months:
▪ At some point since December of 2018, an owner reported that their boat was burglarized and small electronics were taken.
▪ On Feb. 28, a boat owner reported that someone had apparently slept on a boat. No items were reported stolen, though a screen was broken.
▪ On March 22, a boat owner reported that someone apparently came aboard and smoked cigarettes, though nothing appeared to be stolen.
▪ On March 28, a boat owner reported small electronics and clothing were taken, though no damage was done.
▪ At some point in late March or early April tools were stolen off a boat.
▪ At some point in late March or early April a boat was “ransacked,” though nothing appeared to have been taken.
▪ At some point in late March or early April a boat owner reported a screen was damaged and small items were taken.
▪ On April 16, a boat owner reported that locks were manipulated but there didn’t appear to be entry or any items taken.
▪ On June 2, a boat owner reported that personal documents were stolen off their vessel.
Murphy said there was “no way to tell whether he (Owen) is responsible for any of the others.”
According to Whatcom County Superior Court records, Owen already was scheduled for a jury trial beginning July 15 to face charges of second-degree burglary, first-degree stolen property trafficking, second-degree theft and bail jumping.
In that case, Owen is suspected of using a window to break into Brooks Manufacturing on Iowa Street, where he was employed, stealing approximately $3,560 in power tools and pawning the tools, according to court records.
Court records also show Owen has previous Whatcom County convictions for first- and second-degree theft and residential burglary since 2009 as well as convictions for possession of a controlled substance in Skagit County earlier this year and in Lewis County in 2017.
How to keep your boat safe
The Collier County Sheriff’s Office in Naples, Florida, offered these tips to help prevent boat burglaries:
▪ Remember to remove the keys, and if your boat is on a lift, raise it to the highest level to make it harder to board.
▪ Install surveillance cameras that will capture the face of an intruder and motion sensor lights.
▪ Add signage indicating your boat is under surveillance.
▪ Keep the boat cabin locked and curtains closed.
▪ Install an audible boat alarm to deter theft.
▪ Keep valuables and electronics in a secure location and out of sight.
▪ Take pictures and record serial numbers of all valuable property left on the boat and engrave your driver’s license number or another distinctive marking on those items.
▪ Remove all official documents from the boat.
▪ Don’t leave fishing gear outside where it easily can be stolen.