Brae Bravada Burglary Suspect Apprehended In Fortuna
City of Arcata
SUSPECTED SUNNY BRAE BURGLAR IN CUSTODY
On March 5, 2013, Investigators from the Arcata Police Department received information regarding the identity of an individual believed to be responsible for numerous burglaries in the Sunny Brae area over the past months.
Through the course of the investigation, 36-year-old Timothy Dickinson of Arcata was identified by witnesses as burglarizing a home in Sunny Brae. Dickinson’s vehicle, a 2000 Oldsmobile Bravada Ca Lic # 6MKD992 has been identified by additional witnesses leaving the scene of several other burglaries.
On Sunday, March 17, 2013, acting on a tip from a citizen, officers from the Fortuna Police Department located Dickinson in the 700 blk of Fortuna Blvd. Dickinson was taken into custody without incident and booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility on burglary charges.
Note: The following is a story in last week’s Eye encompassing both the Dickinson situation and Arcata burglaries in general. – Ed.
Kevin L. Hoover
SUNNY BRAE – Bedeviled by burglaries, Sunny Brae residents have responded by forming Neighborhood Watch groups, starting a Facebook page and phoning in tips to police.
The citizen response may have paid off in the identification of a suspect believed responsible for multiple burglaries.
Last Thursday, March 7, Arcata Police named Timothy Dickinson, 36, of Arcata as the prime suspect in the burglary of a home at Beverly Drive and Virginia Way on Monday, March 4. An APD press release said Dickinson was “believed to be responsible for numerous burglaries in the Sunny Brae area over the past months.”
Dickinson is said to be driving the gold-colored Oldsmobile Bravada which had been reported in the area when several of the burglaries occurred.
Police served a search warrant on Dicksinson’s residence, but neither he nor any stolen property were located there.
APD Det. Lt. Todd Dokweiler said Dickinson has been linked to two burglaries, and that the investigation is active. The lack of any loot at Dickinson’s home may be because it isn’t his primary residence. “There will probably be more search warrants,” Dokweiler said.
The March 4 burglary took place at the residence of former City Councilmember Connie Stewart. She said it was the fourth burglary she has suffered at her home – three to her house and one to her car. She was grateful to her neighbor for interrupting the theft. “I’m just glad to live in a neighborhood where people look out for each other,” Stewart said.
The neighbor who saw the burglary in progress offered this account on a Facebook page called Sunny Brae Crime Prevention Network:
“Monday at 5 p.m. I was turning the corner coming onto Viginia Way and immediately saw the gold Bravada parked in front of my neighbors home. I of course am slowing down as I turn and I see this suspicious man about 5 feet, 10 inches brown wavy longish hair with a knitted hat (yellow/green/orange and white) carrying a heavy box I make eye contact and I know immediately he has just burglarized my other neighbor’s home, I pull up close to his car in an attempt to gain time, block his way, grab my cell phone and call the police but he is able to speed away I follow him and stop on Marilyn and Chester to see another neighbor running who stops also, saw him speed off, I try and tell the dispatch about what I just saw but he is long gone, the police come investigate and my neighbors back door… is busted, the man has left the large box on the sidewalk across the street from the house he just burglarized, and it seems that he did not get away with much but we are uncertain.”
Arcata crime statistics continued to be volatile in February, showing more spikes and dips in different categories.
Despite Dickinson’s alleged activities, residential burglaries in Arcata were down to seven in February from January’s 26. However, vehicle burglaries surged from nine to 22.
The roller-coaster stats are because Arcata crime figures are relatively low. Dokweiler again noted that one active crook or even one day’s events can wildly skew the statistics.
Among the vehicle burglaries, for example, was a series of forced entries that occurred one night in the Westwood area. Up to nine vehicles were broken into – likely by juveniles, Dokweiler said – with the thieves stealing anything from ashtray change to CDs.
“If you remove that little spree, the numbers look the same,” Dokweiler said.
Part of the problem is that people continue to invite thefts by leaving valuables on display in their cars. A backpack or purse left on a car seat sets up a typical theft scenario.
The Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary and forest trailheads are popular spots for car burglars to strike. Hikers leave valuables in plain sight in their cars, only to return 20 minutes later to find their window smashed and stuff long gone.
“Professional thieves target those areas,” Dokweiler said.
He said the Marsh is a “collection point for ne’er-do-wells.”
In the morning and evening, illegal campers tend to come and go from the Marsh, and take advantage of any theft opportunities that may be available.
“I know we sound like a broken record, but don’t leave valuable items in plain view your car,” Dokweiler said.
The break in the Sunny Brae case came about in part because of increased vigilance by residents. The gold SUV had become associated with break-ins thanks to observations and reports by neighbors.
“They kept seeing the vehicle in areas where burglaries occurred,” Dokweiler said. “We were getting information in bits and pieces.”
Two ’Brae neighborhoods have organized their efforts via Neighborhood Watch groups, and two more are forming now, Dokweiler said. The first one to form is located on lofty Panorama Drive. Given Sunny Brae’s multi-level terrain, the groups can encompass a block or an entire neighborhood.
“There’s no boundary line,” Dockweiler said. “It’s all up to the groups. Obviously the problems are best dealt with in a block-type setting.”
The best thing about the Neighborhood Watch groups is that they have broken down communication barriers between residents, and between residents and police. Dokweiler suspects that there have been more burglary incidents where neighbors have seen suspsicious activity, but just didn’t take that extra step of phoning in information that might have helped build the case.
“I’m absolutely sure there were,” he said. “But someone has to pick up a phone and get involved with other people’s business.”
Some did so, however, assisting with the suspect’s identification.
Apart from any specific incident, the Neighborhood Watch participants are making crime less likely by sharing information, installing extra lighting and being aware of their surroundings. “They’re really stopping the problem before it ever starts,” Dokweiler said.