BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Steve Avila, President of Overhead Door Company, says thieves targeted his business twice in just about a week's time. He says the thieves did at least $60,000 in damage after breaking into six trucks and stealing the tools inside.
On March 6th, despite razor wire and fence surrounding most of the property, thieves were able to access his parking area through a creek that runs along the backside of his property.
"This one they obviously had some good leverage on it and popped that one off," said Steve, pointing to a tool box on a work truck that had been broken into and damaged.
The thieves got into the truck's boxes, making off with thousands of dollars in tools, then came back with a better game plan; stealing even more on March 14th.
"You can see they had a little trouble with this because there are 12 to 15 pry marks on it," said Steve, pointing to another damaged truck. "The first time they did it they grabbed the easy stuff, then they came back with real tools to dig in to here. I had already replaced a bunch of tools, so they came back and stole the new ones and the old ones. It’s just insane."
Steve Bought the business in 2020, since then, he's watched crime skyrocket in Bellingham.
"After the pandemic, the shutdown, inflation and supply chain issues, this company was just starting getting back on track and now, the guys can’t go out produce if they don’t have their tools," said Steve.
It's not just businesses that are being targeted, a few blocks from the Overhead Door Company, restoration worker Jeff Gasser tells us his personal truck, and his tools that were locked inside a secured tool box, were stolen out of his apartment complex parking lot this week.
"As I was walking the dogs, I realized my truck was gone," said Gasser.
He's hoping someone will spot his 2002 F 350 Super Duty. He says it has a front plow, extended cab and white contractor topper. It also had Colorado plates.
"All my tools, everything I worked for is all gone," he said.
Gasser has filed a police report. He's asking that if you see the truck, you contact Bellingham Police.
Ironically, Steve's been trying to combat crimes like this for the past year through volunteer work. He started a trail patrol program to stop car prowls and theft in popular hiking areas around Bellingham last summer.
"We’ve just seen a decrease in overall numbers of break-ins and criminal activity at parks and trail heads," said Jerad Crawford, Fitness Evolution GM and trail patrol organizer.
Steve has his own thoughts on who is responsible.
"This is organized crime," he says.
He is now installed outdoor security cameras at his business and a local company is helping him to quickly fence off the back of the property near the creek, where he believes the thieves likely got onto the property. He estimates the fence should be up within the next couple of days.