Crime

Police: Armed meat thief robs Haggen in Bellingham

Bellingham Police search for Haggen robbery suspect

Bellingham Police search the neighborhood around the Haggen grocery store on Meridian Street, Wednesday, March 16, 2016, after a man suspected of robbing meat from the grocery store threatened security guards when confronted. Police reported later
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Bellingham Police search the neighborhood around the Haggen grocery store on Meridian Street, Wednesday, March 16, 2016, after a man suspected of robbing meat from the grocery store threatened security guards when confronted. Police reported later

Police arrested a man accused of using a baton to rob meat from a Haggen grocery store Wednesday, March 16.

A man walked into the grocery store at 2814 Meridian St. and loaded up on deli meats until his pockets were “just bulging,” said Bellingham Police Lt. Bob Vander Yacht.

Once he walked past the cash registers Haggen security guards confronted him around 10:45 a.m.

Out by the garden section in front of the store, the man fought with security. The shoplifter whipped out a baton and pulled it back as if he was about to take a swing, Vander Yacht said. At some point, the man was taken to the ground, but he managed to get away, police said.

No one was hurt.

A witness saw the scuffle and started recording a video.

Police released a still image from that video within minutes of the robbery. The image showed a man in a dark rain jacket, dark work pants and orange Timberland boots. He appears clean-shaven and in his 20s.

Over the next few hours police were “overwhelmed” with tips from the public, Vander Yacht said.

The suspect was identified as Dason Joseph Christunas, 21. Detectives arrested him on Wednesday afternoon at an apartment off C Street. Police recovered the evidence: a pair of orange Timberland boots and an ASP-style baton, Vander Yacht said.

Last week police contacted Christunas for trespassing on Port of Bellingham property, Vander Yacht said. Christunas has no felony record in Washington state. Social media accounts suggest he’s from Nevada.

Detectives showed a photo of Christunas to the victim of another robbery from Tuesday evening at Buzz Thru Coffee, about three blocks from Haggen.

The barista, 24, told police the Buzz Thru robber was not the man in the photo.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb

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