BELLINGHAM - A 21-year-old Blaine man was arrested early Tuesday, March 29, after allegedly breaking into Wilson Engineering and setting a van on fire outside of the business. He also is suspected in other burglaries in the area that morning.
At about 2:42 a.m., Bellingham Police received a call from a man who said he had been flagged down by another man acting strangely and saying he wanted to harm himself and possibly others, Bellingham Police spokesman Mark Young said.
The caller said the man also told him he left his vehicle on some railroad tracks.
As police responded to the area, they found a Toyota 4Runner abandoned on the railroad tracks in the 1800 block of Roeder Avenue, Young said. Police ran the license plate, and discovered that the vehicle belonged to Jacob D. Webster.
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Meanwhile, officers in the area discovered an attempted burglary at Wilson Engineering, 805 Dupont St. A building window was shattered and a Ford Econoline van was on fire outside of the business, Young said. The fire caused thousands of dollars of damage to the van.
While officers responded to the burglary and vehicle fire, they were contacted by a resident who reported someone had just tried to force in the front door of his home in the 700 block of Dupont Street. The windshield of a Toyota Camry outside of that home had been smashed as well, Young said.
A third attempted burglary was then reported in the 1500 block of E Street; an alarm had activated at a business after a front door was forced open.
Police found Webster in the area a short time later. He was brought to St. Joseph hospital for an exam and mental health evaluation, then booked into Whatcom County Jail for investigation of second-degree burglary and second-degree arson. Other charges are pending at the conclusion of the investigation, Young said.
Webster pleaded guilty earlier this year to second-degree theft after breaking into a co-worker's home in Blaine and stealing a television and stereo in October 2010, according to Whatcom County court records.
Police received reports from multiple witnesses during Tuesday's crime spree, and those reports were vital in catching the suspect, Young said.
"We really rely heavily on what people are seeing," he said. "I really credit the multiple witnesses as well as the responding officers."