Police investigating early-morning burglaries of MLT senior center, church

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The Mountlake Terrace Senior Center.

Police are investigating the early-morning burglaries of the Mountlake Terrace Senior Center, 5605-235th St. S.W., and neighboring Bethesda Lutheran Church, 23406-56th Ave. W., on Thursday, but are not commenting on speculation the break-ins may be related.

The senior center was robbed of cash, checks, gift cards and a set of keys, said Seaun Richards, the group’s president who also is a Mountlake Terrace City Councilmember. A representative from the church could not be reached for additional information.

A couple of morning attendees at the senior center reported catching a glimpse of someone in a hoodie dashing out of the building, Richards said, but could not give a further description of the individual.

Senior center officials have recently been discussing adding some security measures to the facility. “We were just talking about installing an alarm system, but we were going to wait until after the first of the year,” Richards said. “It just got moved to the top of the list.”

Home and business invasion burglaries in Mountlake Terrace have been occurring at a higher rate in 2012 than in recent years. According to Mountlake Terrace Police Department statistics, 116 burglaries were reported during the first nine months of this year, a pace that — if continued –will eclipse the yearly high of 148 that occurred in 2010. Last year, 135 burglaries were reported in Mountlake Terrace.

“It is fair to say that we are experiencing a slight increase in burglary activity,” said Assistant Chief of Police Pete Caw on Thursday.  “Our response is, and will continue to be, added presence in the neighborhoods, coupled with consistent traffic enforcement,” Caw continued. “It may not surprise you to know that most of the burglars, and other criminal elements, drive vehicles to and from their endeavors.”

The senior center has been incorporating some changes to their hours of operation and their facility this year. Upcoming plans for a new coffee bar and espresso stand, plus other upgrades, will not be delayed after Thursday’s burglary, said Richards. “I am even more determined,” he added. “I would like to see more people and activity there to deter anyone from doing this again.”

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