Kc Colton opened the door of his home a week ago and knew right away something was not right.
"The first thing that goes through my head is ’This is not how I left my house,’" he said.
Colton, who had been deployed aboard the submarine USS Henry M. Jackson for 40 days, arrived at his house on Warren Avenue to find he’d been robbed.
Thieves took a television, change out of a jar, a video game console and games. Even worse, they took an engagement ring Colton planned to give his girlfriend when he makes it back home to Lincoln County, Tenn., in late December.
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Bremerton Police Detective Sgt. Kevin Crane said robberies of deployed military service members is relatively rare. "It’s been years since I can recall a sailor being burglarized after being deployed," he said.
Scott Wilson, Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said it happens, but how often is difficult to know immediately because police reports don’t always categorize the occupation of victims.
The emotional impact of the burglary didn’t hit Colton until the next day, he said, because he had been in such a good mood about getting home. "I’ve never been skittish or having to watch my back when walking into my house," he said. "It’s weird."
Crane said the incident has been turned over to a detective and would not comment on what tack police will take.
Wilson said he has seen military service members take effective precautions to prevent burglaries while they’re away. Some have roommates who are also service members, but are on a different deployment schedule so that someone is always home.
Anyone who leaves home for an extended period should take some basic precautions, Wilson said. Get a friend or family member to visit the house every day to check on utilities and turn different lights on to make it look like someone’s home. Those watching the home should also pick up mail and newspapers and maintain the yard.
"This doesn’t apply just to military, it applies to everyone across the board," Wilson said.
Colton, 23, said he is not too attached to many of the things he lost. He has renters insurance and plans to restock what he can, but his top two priorities for replacement are the ring and his television. He still plans to pop the question in December.