Recent burglaries shake small town of Buckley

BUCKLEY, Wash. -- The open side window was the first clue something was wrong. The second was the broken glass littering the back porch near the rear entrance to the business.

Vikki Cowden's employee then called 911 on that morning a few weeks ago. By the time police arrived, they discovered that Cowden's salon, on Main Street in Buckley, had almost $10,000 worth of damage and stolen property.

"Most of it was destruction," Cowden said, wiping tears from her face. "See, I get emotional over that."

Cowden, who has owned Shear Magic Salon for more than seven years, says she has never had a problem with crime in the town of 4,300 until now, a town so small there is just a single traffic light at the far end of Main Street and many of her customers still walk in off the sidewalk.

"It's like (the burglars) didn't have the concern or care," she said, pausing to catch her breath. "They broke file cabinets and doors, ripped up papers, broke my back computer. It's really destructive."

The burglary at Cowden's business is one of about half a dozen in the past month, said Buckley Police Chief Jim Arsanto. In total, the city of Buckley has only had about 12 burglaries -- residential and commercial, total -- this year, he said.

"We've had a lot in a short period of time," Arsanto said. "Unfortunately, times have changed. When you leave your home, you need to lock your homes. When you leave your cars, you need to lock your cars."

Java Angels, a coffee shop off of Highway 410, has been hit twice in the past month, according to detectives. The first time, someone broke in sometime after closing, stealing money and causing damage throughout the small coffee stand.

"Just chaos," said Kayla Harris, a barista. "(The employee who discovered the burglary) tried to hold it together, but it is an awful feeling to walk into something so disgusting as that."

"It's a small town. We never think things like this are going to happen in Buckley but they are and it's happening a lot," Harris said.

Police have solid leads, Arsanto added, including a few that came in as recently as Tuesday morning. Arsanto said they hope to make an arrest soon.

"In this small community, I would think that people would want to pull together. People would want to know about it," Cowden added. "Especially at this time of year, people should know that their homes could be violated, their businesses."