Mukilteo police detective Nicole Stone was running out of leads in an early March burglary investigation when she stuck her business card into the door jamb of a Lynnwood man's home.
It seemed a long shot.
"I had nothing left to go on at that point," she said.
The man wasn't so much a suspect as someone she thought might have some knowledge.
Two days later, on March 29, Snohomish County sheriff's deputies caught up with the man on an unrelated matter.
They called Stone when they found him in possession of her business card. She drove to the Motel 6 in Everett where he was being detained.
Her hunch was right. The man knew something about her case.
The information led deputies and the Snohomish County Auto Theft Task Force to a stolen Cadillac Deville at an Everett apartment complex. Inside one of the units near the 9900 block of 12th Avenue W were goods stolen from an undetermined number of homes in Snohomish and King counties.
The Caddy had been swiped from a home in Mukilteo. The break-in was fresh; the homeowner hadn't reported it.
Two men, both 25, were arrested. One was booked into the Snohomish County Jail for investigation of trafficking in stolen property. The other was booked into the King County Jail for investigation of burglary and possessing a stolen firearm.
So far, it has taken Mukilteo detectives the better part of a week to catalog all the recovered goods, including more than 200 pieces of jewelry, guns, electronics, power tools and five flat screen TVs ranging in size from 32 to 60 inches.
Detectives already are confident they can link the stolen goods to five burglaries in Mukilteo alone.
"I'm guessing there will be more," Stone said.
Other agencies, including the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office and Kirkland police, also are trying to match the goods to unsolved burglaries in their jurisdictions.
Many items appear to have sentimental value, including what appears to be an old ceremonial dagger, a hand-carved jewelry box and a large cross depicting the crucifixion.
Police believe the suspects are responsible for several burglaries in Mukilteo. The thieves pried open back doors and windows.
Mukilteo was hit hard by burglars in March and police hope the arrests will cut into the number of break-ins in April.
"We had in the month of March more burglaries than we did in January and February combined," Mukilteo officer Cheol Kang said.
Of the more than five dozen burglaries reported so far this year, more than half occurred in March.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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