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Sheriff: Bellingham burglar had break-ins among 11 past felonies

BELLINGHAM — A Bellingham man accused of breaking into Geneva neighborhood homes has 11 felonies on his record, most of them for burglary, theft and possession of stolen property, according to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies and police dogs followed tracks in the snow Friday afternoon, Feb. 7, to find Michael Edmound Johnsen, 35, hiding under a fallen tree at the base of Lookout Mountain.

The footprints matched shoes worn by Johnsen: “a career criminal and a prolific burglar” in Whatcom County, said Sheriff Bill Elfo.

For his latest conviction in 2008, he stole more than $4,000 in cash and jewelry from a house on East Laurel Road. A day later he got caught prying open the door to Grace Community Church, 4454 Pacific Highway, with a screwdriver, on a Wednesday.

Since his release from prison last year, he hadn’t been caught committing a crime in Washington.

But around 12:15 p.m. Friday, a Geneva resident reported a man with a shaved head and a black hoodie tried to open the doors and windows of a house in the 1500 block of Lakewood Lane, according to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office. Once he fled, the resident gave sheriff’s deputies a good description of the man and his car.

About an hour later a woman who lives nearby reported she’d come home to find her front door ajar. A man with a shaved head and a black hoodie ran outside apologizing. Deputies learned several other homes in the neighborhood were missing jewelry, computer equipment, prescription drugs, cash, checks and a credit card.

A U.S. border helicopter and police dogs helped to find Johnsen hiding along the trails off of Parkstone Drive. The getaway car was found in the 4300 block of Columbus Street, with stolen property still inside.

Johnsen faces four counts of burglary, one count of attempted burglary and two counts of second-degree theft. He was wanted for a Department of Corrections escape warrant too, Elfo said.

Johnsen made his first appearance in court Monday.

Reach Caleb Hutton at or 360-715-2276. Read his Dispatcher blog at or get updates on Twitter at @bhamcrime.