Bellingham Police Department's Neighborhood Anti- Crime Team (NACT) made some significant headway in the battle against property crimes on Wednesday April 19. Officers were in the 600 block of N. Forest Street conducting surveillance on a suspected drug house. Illegal activity at this particular residence was initially reported to the Bellingham Police Department by neighbors in the spring of 2016. Since this initial report, police have responded to the residence dozens of times, for incidents ranging from drug and weapon offenses to stolen property and code violations.
Based on evidence gathered during surveillance, a search warrant was applied for and granted. When officers and detectives executed the search warrant it was apparent that there was a significant amount of probable stolen property in the residence. Sergeant Keith Johnson, who supervises the NACT team listed some of the property recovered as:
- Numerous high end bikes and bike frames
- Construction equipment and tools
Just over $10,000 of the property recovered has been confirmed stolen through reports made to the police department. Approximately $6000 worth of suspected stolen property has been impounded in hopes of identifying a rightful owner. Heroin and methamphetamine were also seized at the residence, along with cash and other evidence of the sale and use of illegal drugs. 35 year old Joseph Gaudette was arrested during the warrant execution. Gaudette was booked into the Whatcom County Jail for Trafficking in Stolen Property in the first degree.
Assisting NACT with the execution of the search warrant were the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), two detectives assigned to the newly resurrected property crimes team, crime scene investigators, and officers from the Department of Corrections.
The Bellingham Police Department suffered significant cuts to personnel in 2008. As a result, property crimes were investigated on a case by case basis. Mayor Linville has been supportive of the police department's desire to get personnel back to 2008 numbers in order to better serve the community.
In January of 2017 the department was able to assign two detectives to work full time on property crimes. The impact was immediate. Before January was over a serial burglar had been identified as being responsible for a string of burglaries spanning from 8/2016 to 1/2017 in the City Center and Fairhaven areas. To date, property valued at $14,629 has been recovered and returned. In addition, property crimes detectives were able to locate a $23,000 stolen vehicle, and identify one of the suspects responsible for the crime.