A rash of recent burglaries in downtown Homer has Homer Police officers on high alert. The latest burglary took place over the weekend at Tech Connect, the locally-owned electronics store on Pioneer Avenue in downtown Homer.
Homer Police Sergeant Larry Kuhns has been working with other officers on that case. He says many Apple products were stolen from the store. He says police do have a suspect or suspects on the case but he declined to go into further detail, citing the ongoing investigation.
Timeless Toys on Main Street was also the victim of a break-in last week, says Kuhns, as was a private residence on Skyline Drive, where multiple television sets were stolen.
Kuhns says there have also been several vehicle break-ins recently, including multiple government vehicles that were parked at the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center. Another vehicle was recently stolen from behind the Ptarmigan Arts Gallery on Pioneer Avenue.
"We've also had a huge increase in the amount of heroin and methamphetamine arrests," said Kuhns.
Some of the recent drug arrests have happened as a result of routine stops related to other incidents. On Friday, for instance, Homer Police arrested 20-year-old Kimberly Payne on suspicion of shoplifting at Safeway. Kuhns says that when officers searched Payne and her companion – 36-year-old Eric Haughey – they found multiple packages of heroin and methamphetamine. Payne and Haughey were both arrested and charged with multiple drug offenses.
Kuhns says police do not think most of the recent burglaries are tied together.
"The ones that we're solving, they seem to be different folks," he said.
Kuhns says police do have a suspect in another high-profile burglary that took place earlier this year at the Salvation Army in downtown Homer. He says that suspect will likely be arrested soon.
For days, information about the recent burglaries has been circulating on social media. On local Facebook pages, many details – some correct and some not – have been shared over and over again.
Kuhns says that sometimes, Facebook and other social media can be of help to law enforcement. Just like other social media lurkers, police will sometimes snoop Facebook to find clues about cases or the whereabouts of a suspect.
But there are other times, Kuhns says, when information spread on social media can actually hinder a police investigation.
"There are details in those crimes that we would hope that only the victim and the police would know," he said. "So it's hard to get an accurate statement when everything's been published."
Small-town gossip is nothing new to Homer, of course, but Kuhns says Facebook has really accelerated the speed with which rumors gain traction.
Kuhns advises Homer residents and business owners to be more conscious of security. Doors should be locked and if a business has a surveillance camera system, it should be operating.
Anyone with any knowledge of any crime is urged to call the Homer Police Department at 235-3150.