Police say burglaries drug related

A rash of Homer burglaries that started with a break-in at the Salvation Army on Sept. 11 have continued with a burglary Oct. 9 at a Skyline Drive lodge and burglaries last week of two downtown Homer businesses. Police have charged two suspects in the lodge burglary, Hannah Hill and Harold Sargeant, both 20, charging them each with three counts of first-degree burglary, second-degree theft and tampering with physical evidence.

Police suspect the burglaries are drug related, said Homer Police Sgt. Lary Kuhns. Police also have made numerous arrests recently for possession of meth, heroin and prescription drugs, including one woman charged with dealing heroin.

“The correlations between the thefts and the drug arrests are parallel,” Kuhns said. “I think one’s feeding the others. Right now the drug situation is a mess.”

Police filed an arrest warrant Tuesday in the Salvation Army burglary, Kuhns said. Charged is Joshua P. Johnston, 24, with one count of second-degree burglary for taking a safe with $1,900. Kuhns said a tip lead to charging Johnston as the suspect.

Between Oct. 14 and Monday, there also were suspected burglaries with nothing taken when alarms were triggered at the SVT Health Clinic and at a Pioneer Avenue business. Six car owners also reported cars broken into and items stolen.

The biggest loss was at Tech Connect on Pioneer Avenue, when between last Saturday and Monday morning a burglar jimmied a deadbolt, cut security camera wires and stole about $4,000 in Apple iPads and iPods.

“They just went shopping for Apples,” said Gayle Forrest, owner with her husband Craig of the store. “It’s fall. Everybody likes Apples in the fall.”

A burglar also broke into Timeless Toys on Main Street, the second break-in since July, said owner Becky Pfeil. In July, about $800 in cash was taken. This time, the thief got a handful of quarters, a cheap digital camera and an envelope of paid-for gift certificates, Pfeil said.

In the Skyline Drive lodge burglary, police said in charging documents that the caretaker of the Silver Fox Lodge reported buildings had been broken into and six televisions, a laptop computer and a guitar amplifier, all worth $3,500, had been taken. A Silver Fox Lodge employee later told the caretaker, who told police, that Hill had put up a Facebook post advertising a 55-inch LG TV for sale. Hill had worked for Silver Fox as a deckhand. 

Officer Larry Baxter went to Hill’s Fairview Avenue apartment. While there, a neighbor said he heard Hill and Sargeant unloading several heavy items from their truck about 1 a.m. Oct. 9. Baxter later contacted Hill, and he said she admitted two Silver Fox Lodge TVs were in her apartment.

Kuhns said the drug situation in Homer has gotten much worse.

“I don’t think that I’ve ever seen Homer as far as this big a mess,” he said. “Everything that’s happening in a big city is happening in Homer as far as the drug scene.”

Kuhns said one suspect has been identified in one of the recent burglaries and police are investigating the other.