Burglars have robbed several lower Kenai Peninsula businesses and cabins since early September, stealing firearms, a vehicle, chainsaws, high-end fishing gear and even a childhood ceramic dish made by one cabin owner’s daughter. Alaska State Troopers have arrested one couple alleged to have broken into an Alta Loop home, but the others remain unsolved and still under investigation. The break-ins are part of a steady property-crime wave that has hit Homer and Anchor Point.
“I’ve got nine open burglaries that are still in my queue over the last five to eight months, not counting the ones I’ve closed out and investigated to the end and somebody got charged or we don’t have enough to charge anybody,” said Sgt. Daniel Cox, head of the Anchor Point Alaska State Troopers Post, E Detachment.
In one incident, someone broke into the Mike and Jocelyn Barker family cabin on the Anchor River and even slept in a bed.
“To me, of all the things they did, that’s the biggest disgust,” said Barker’s daughter, Abbie. “Who comes and steals and they’re comfortable enough to ‘Goldilocks’ your bed? That makes you a different level of criminal.”
Recent burglaries include:
• Sometime between Sept. 3 and 14: The Barker recreational cabin on the Anchor River near Mile 159 Sterling Highway in which thieves took $15,000 in fishing gear, tools, rare whisky and bourbon, cigars, and a unique copper fish lamp.
• Sept. 21: An Anchor Point home on Alta Loop. Thieves took guns, cash and other items. On Oct. 3, troopers recovered stolen items and arrested Levin Boone, 32, and Amelia Inman, 22, both of Anchor Point, charging them both with third-degree weapons misconduct and second-degree theft.
• Sept. 28: At 7 a.m. troopers received a report of a break-in at Useful Things, an Anchor Point pawn shop, followed by a report at 8:30 a.m. of a break-in at Sarge’s Towing in Anchor Point. Thieves stole a Dodge Nitro SUV from Sarge’s and guns, jewelry and cash from Useful Things. The Dodge was found abandoned nearby. Cox said troopers suspect the two incidents are related, but don’t have evidence yet to connect the two.
• Oct. 14: Troopers went to a report of a burglary in progress in Anchor Point. Troopers contacted a man who refused to identify himself and then fought with a trooper. Troopers arrested Harold Sargeant, 24, of Anchor Point, on an arrest warrant and on charges of weapons misconduct, resisting arrest, fourth-degree assault and removal of identification marks on a firearm. Troopers said Sargeant is a convicted felon and that he had a handgun with its serial number removed.
• Oct. 16: A Ninilchik man reported a Dolmar chainsaw missing from his yard. He said he thought it might have been stolen on Oct. 5 when he saw an old gray-primer painted truck with a loud exhaust leaving his driveway.
• Oct. 16: A Homer man, Jeff Middleton, reported sometime during the previous three days someone broke into his East End Road shop and stole chainsaws and hand tools worth $2,000.
“Historically, the majority of thefts and property crimes are directly tied to drugs,” Cox said. “We’re seeing a spike in property thefts. That goes along with the spike in drug use and drug abuse.”
In the Barker burglary, thieves cut padlocks on a unique metal panel security system Barker devised. His cabin consists of four shipping containers linked together. Metal sheets from the containers slide over windows and doors, with Master brand padlocks securing the panels. Barker, of Bozeman, Mont., found out about the break-in when a plumber went to winterize the cabin. The plumber found a key for the Master locks didn’t work because someone cut the locks and replaced them with locks of their own.
“It would be very challenging to gain access to the cabin unless you knew the system,” said Abbie Barker.
Cox said he thought the thieves had replaced the locks to make it look like everything was OK and the cabin hadn’t been broken into. After Barker had the locks changed, he said he suspects the thieves returned and tried to break in again. An avid fly fisherman, Barker left early for the season to visit a friend with cancer. The thieves cleaned out 40 years worth of fishing equipment, including that of the sick man. Barker had received several rods and reels as gifts, including a $925 Thomas and Thomas rod, an $850 Wintston rod and a $950 Abel reel. The thieves also took duffel bags of flies, tackle and outdoor gear like Cloud Break polarized sunglasses. They also stole Barker’s grandfather’s 100-year-old Seth Thomas clock, ivory, a Byron Birdsall limited-edition print of Japanese cranes and a copper fish sculpture lamp Abbie Barker gave to her father for a cabin-warming present.
“They managed to steal everything that was of sentimental value. That was the hardest part,” she said.
The Barker cabin is tucked down by the river at the end of a long driveway and not visible from the road. Barker said he allows local fishermen to park at the top of the road and walk down to the river.
“It’s nice and private and remote,” Cox said. “On the flip side, it’s private and remote.”
The Barkers said they believe someone with knowledge of the cabin broke in.
“It seems so strange and it seems so personal, not some punk kid who ripped the door off,” Abbie Barker said.
“This doesn’t sound like the typical meth-head break in. I’m not going to blame this on drugs,” Mike Barker said. “… I can’t help but think it was someone who knew we were leaving.”
The Barkers have offered a $500 reward for anyone with information about the burglary. Distinctive items like the rare fishing rods and reels or the lamp sculpture would stand out. Anyone with information on the burglary or other burglaries can call troopers at 907-262-4453.
Cox said he thinks most of the thefts are drug related. Thieves either trade stolen items for drugs or attempt to fence them at pawn shops or online through Craig’s List, eBay or Facebook buy-and-sell pages. Local pawn shops work with troopers and share information back and forth on possible stolen goods. Guns are highly sought to steal, Cox said. Many gunowners don’t record serial numbers, which makes recovered firearms hard to return. Cox said troopers recently found a gun reported stolen 40 years ago.
“A lot of the stolen weapons unfortunately are finding their way into possession of gangs both in Alaska and outside Alaska,” he said.
Cox also recommended recording serial numbers of other possessions like cameras, TVs and stereos, even smart phones. Trail cameras also can help identify suspects. Some security cameras even send alerts to smart phones. The Barkers hope to get some items back, especially sentimental items.
“We’ll just keeping trying and keeping an eye out,” Abbie Barker said. “If it comes back, it comes back. We’ve all accepted we’ll never see this stuff again. It would be nice if somebody got caught.”
Items stolen from Barker cabin:
Stern fishing bag with about 250 flies, 125 hooks and other gear; Smith polarized sunglasses, Cloud Break polarized glasses
Filson suspender fishing vest
Simms G3 Guide Jacket
Two Full Tackle boxes with lures, hooks, line, tools, floats, plugs, etc.
Simms Guide G3 Waders
Six Shimano/Abu Garcia/Penn reels
Seven fly rods with cases: Winston, Thomas and Thomas, Sage, Temple Fork, Echo Ion, Eagle Claw, Lamiglass
Fly reels: Abel, Teton, Ross Cimarron, Martin, Pflueger medalist
Bear Spray, two canisters with holsters
Patagonia Women’s waders
Neoprene boots and gloves
REI sleeping bag
1 2-person Kelty
1 pair Korker women’s wading shoes
two Russian crystal decanters and glasses
Liquor: Eldorado 20 year rum, Elijah Craig 18, Four roses small batch, Crown Royal Cask 16, Talisker 25, Lagavullin 18, Talisker 10, Bruichladdich, Springbank 12, Macallan 15
Rosewood and cedar Cigar Humidor
20 cigars: 12 My Fathers, four Cohibas, four Arturo fuentes
Ivory and whale bone sculpture made by Alaskan Native of two Canadian geese
Fish and Rock Table Lamp
Grandad’s old Seth Thomas shelf Clock, 100 years old
iPod and Bose system, with 1,200 songs loaded, black,
Japanese carved wooden bear
small pottery dish made by Barker daughter
Metal sculpture of a rocking fisherman and fish balance toy
Old train car brass Aladdin lamp with wall mount, 100 years old, $148
wooden coasters for glasses
Book on Cook Inlet, 2 years old,
Grizzly skull, 14 years old, $240
Original, print, 1 of 12, Japanese Cranes by Byron Birdsall
Commemorative shar-pei plates
Honda pressure washer
Little Giant ladder
8’ step ladder
Extensive hand tools, wrenches, sockets, screwdrivers, hammers, mostly Craftsman