Sterling highway break-ins leave business owners frustrated

  • By DAN BALMER
  • Wednesday, April 23, 2014 11:24pm
  • News

A handful of break-ins around the central Kenai Peninsula over the past couple of weeks have left some businesses owners frustrated.

Steve Stuber, owner of Lea’s Boutique on the Sterling Highway had just opened his business two months ago when an overnight burglar entered into his business and stole $1,500 in merchandise and did $1,000 worth of damage on April 16.

One night earlier, three males used a hammer to break through the window of Tobacco Distress across the street and steal three large water bongs. Alaska State Troopers arrested Jason Wilson, 20, Jason Phipps, 19, and Timothy Wood,19, all from Soldotna, after the bongs were found in their possession, according to an Alaska State Trooper dispatch.

Stuber, the former owner of Tobacco Distress, said sometime after midnight, the thieves took off a section of exterior siding at Lea’s Boutique, kicked through sheetrock in the back of the building, jumped over the counter and disabled his security camera and motion detector. Once inside of the adult shop, they took a mannequin wearing lingerie with them, two blowup dolls, along with a handful of other smaller priced items, he said.

Stuber said he has already upgraded his security since the break-in and has offered a $1,000 reward to hopefully catch what he believes is the act of juveniles.

“It is frustrating,” he said. “You try to build on something and establish yourself in the community and something like this happens.”

Also on April 16 at about 12:51 a.m. rolls of chain-link fencing and a gate were stolen from the Sterling Community Center. SCC President Bob Oates said security camera footage has been given to troopers who are reviewing the footage.

Oates said the community Neighborhood Watch program, which started up a couple years ago due to an increase in thefts, has been active in reporting suspicious activity to troopers.

In the last two weeks, overnight break-ins and stolen and damaged property have sprung up around the Kenai Peninsula with trooper reports in Sterling, Homer, Anchor Point, Ninilchik, Girdwood and Kalifornsky.

AST Sgt. Eugene Fowler, from the Soldotna Post, said troopers have been running down a few leads, but do not have any specific evidence connecting the break-ins.

“At this time it is believed these are all random acts,” he said. “We are sharing our investigations with other law enforcement, but do not believe it is a series of connected burglaries.”

Fowler said break-ins are common during the spring, especially when reports come in from seasonal residents who come back to their property after being away for months to discover that items have been stolen. He said “snow burgs,” as troopers call them, are typically reported in April and May and reports this year are no more unusual.

He said troopers are doing their best within their manpower to patrol the areas where burglaries are reported. He also encourages the public to contact troopers if they have seen any suspicious activity, but warns people to not take proactive measures themselves.

He said sites like the Facebook page Kenai Peninsula Crime, where people inform others of criminal activity in the area, can be helpful, but it should also be reported to authorities.

“Social media is a quick, easy way to get information out there,” he said. “We have the justice system for a reason.”

Trooper spokesperson Megan Peters said burglaries are a crime of opportunity and business owners and seasonal residents should take steps to lock up valuables and not leave things in view.

“When people notice patterns, they could victimize you,” she said. “We want to encourage people to be mindful and make yourself a harder target.”

Reach Dan Balmer at daniel.balmer@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

The Alaska State Capitol is seen on Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Legislature modernizes 40-year-old definition of consent in sexual assault cases

‘Alaska took a gargantuan step forward in updating our laws,’ says deputy attorney general

Project stakeholders cut a ribbon at the Nikiski Shelter of Hope on Friday, May 20, 2022, in Nikiski, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Stakeholders celebrate opening of Nikiski shelter

The shelter officially opened last December

Peter Segall / Juneau Empire
Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks with reporters Thursday about the state’s budget at the Alaska State Capitol. Dunleavy said lawmakers had sent a complete budget, and that there was no need for a special session.
Dunleavy: No need for special session

Governor calls budget “complete”

A magnet promoting the Alaska Reads Act released sits atop a stack of Alaskan-authored and Alaska-centric books. Lawmakers passed the Alaska Reads Act on the last day of the legislative session, but several members of the House of Representatives were upset with the bill, and the way it was passed. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
In last-minute move, Legislature passes early reading overhaul

Rural lawmakers push back on Alaska Reads Act

Graduates wait to receive diplomas during Connections Homeschool’s commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Connections honors more than 100 graduates

The home-school program held a ceremony Thursday in Soldotna

Alaska Senate President Peter Micciche, left, and Senate Minority Leader Tom Begich, right, meet with reporters in Micciche’s office in the early morning hours of Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Juneau, Alaska, after the Legislature ended its regular session. Micciche, a Republican, and Begich, a Democrat, discussed their working relationship, as well as well as parts of the session they were either pleased with or disappointed with. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)
After House balks at bigger figure, budget OK’d with $3,200 payout per Alaskan

Budget finishes as second-largest in state history by one measure, but Dunleavy could make cuts

Loren Reese, principal at Kenai Alternative High School, gives Oliver Larrow the Mr. Fix It award Wednesday, May 18, 2022, at Kenai Alternative High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai Alternative graduates 22, says goodbye to principal

The ceremony included special awards customized for students

Graduates throw their caps into the air at the end of Soldotna High School’s commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘We never fell down’

Soldotna High School honors more than 100 graduates

Brandi Harbaugh gives a presentation during a joint work session on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Mill rate decrease, max school funding included in proposed borough budget

The final document is subject to approval by the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly

Most Read