Church car prowls lead to home burglaries

by: Chris Legeros Updated:

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Edmonds, Wash. —

Edmonds police have made a huge burglary bust. They recovered thousands of dollars worth of jewelry, watches, coins, cell phones, cameras and computers last Sunday at Andy's Motel on Highway 99.

A 30-year-old Everett man, Steven Espitia, was arrested for making death threats against police after he briefly barricaded himself inside the motel. The police think he may be linked to several car prowls last Sunday outside the Korean United Presbyterian Church.

While church members were attending the service, someone broke into their cars. A garage door opener was taken from one of them and immediately used to get inside and burglarize a church member's house just a few blocks away. Sgt. Mark Marsh said that church member was victimized twice. The burglar dropped a backpack on his way out of the house that contained some stolen items, along with evidence that helped lead police to the motel.

Marsh said more arrests and more charges are expected. Police are also checking to see whether other churches have been targeted in both Snohomish and King counties. On July 7, a church member had her car broken into at the Westgate Chapel in Edmonds. Immediately afterwards, her home was burglarized in Mountlake Terrace. Pastor Cindi Bowen said members will be advised in the next church bulletin to always lock their cars before stepping inside for services.

Washington drivers are required to have their vehicle registrations and proof of insurance inside their cars. Those documents include home addresses. The police said it's a good idea to secure those documents in a way that thieves can't get at them.