A brazen burglary from a major grocery store, followed by a suspicious package that brought a bomb squad to town, provided the bookends for a busy few days in Enumclaw.
The burglary started at 2:30 a.m. April 2, when a young man walked into Safeway. During that early morning shift, most store activity involves stocking shelves as customers are scarce. The 18-year-old suspect was counting on that; he came armed with a tool that he used to quickly pry open cash register drawers.
Scooping money from the tills, he and several associates departed without notice, according to a verbal report issued by an Enumclaw Police Department spokesman. They hopped into a vehicle and drove east on state Route 410.
Proving that it’s best to obey traffic laws, the vehicle was pulled over minutes later. An EPD patrol officer stopped the vehicle for a routine violation and that’s when all the pieces fell into place.
The officer first noticed a smell of marijuana wafting from the suspect vehicle and spotted cash scattered in the car. By that time, the empty cash registers had been discovered and city police had been notified. Standing at the suspect vehicle, the officer was alerted to the store heist, connected the dots and thwarted the ill-fated getaway.
The suspect was booked into the Enumclaw jail. During a video arraignment the following afternoon, he pleaded not guilty to charges of third-degree theft and malicious mischief.
Two days later, a citizen was making an early-morning stop at the Post Office Annex on Washington Avenue. Outside, sitting on the ground near a mailbox, was a metal canister; the look was familiar, the type of box used by the military to store ammunition.
Due to the suspicious nature of the item, city police alerted the Washington State Patrol. The WSP responded with its bomb unit, which took an X-ray of the canister before opening it.
Sgt. Jon Buss of the Enumclaw Police Department noted the box contained just “miscellaneous items, nothing dangerous.”
The incident resulted in Washington Street being closed for a time, but everything was back to normal by 9 a.m.
A third incident occurred between the Monday robbery and Wednesday scare, a relatively minor item that resulted in a noticeable police presence on Battersby Avenue.
A client at Buckley’s Rainier School had been transported to St. Elizabeth Hospital but determined she did not want to remain. She departed on foot, heading east on Battersby. Several police units responded, the woman was quickly found and a Buckley officer arrived to provide a return trip to Rainier School.
Battersby Avenue was closed for a short time but was soon open for traffic.