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An unrelated series of crimes kept law enforcement officers busy this weekend, with both incidents resulting in arrests.

According to a press release, Kittitas County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of a burglary in progress in the area north of Ellensburg at approximately 9 a.m. Sunday. An alert homeowner recognized a strange bicycle at the end of their driveway. They inspected sheds and buildings on the property and found them secure. Deputies then noticed a sound coming from a covered car port. There, the homeowner quietly observed a strange man attempting to make forced entry to a locked box. They backed away slowly and notified deputies of their discovery.

Deputies quickly surrounded the subject with the help of Ellensburg Police Department and Central Washington University Police Department officers. The release said 34-year-old Austin French of Seattle was taken into custody and booked for burglary. The bicycle initially noticed by the homeowner was reported stolen out of Seattle and French was found to have an active arrest warrant and was additionally charged with making false statements after lying to the arresting deputies about his identity. While being medically cleared at the hospital, French attempted to flee on foot before quickly being apprehended by deputies on scene, resulting in an escape charge being added.

Approximately an hour after the first incident, the release said KCSO deputies responded to a second, unrelated report of another burglary in progress. A couple in the area south of Ellensburg woke to a man walking into their house through the door leading to the garage. Startled, the homeowners confronted the man verbally and told him to leave. The man, later identified as 42-year-old Christopher Mathews of Moses Lake, claimed he was “sent by people.” The homeowners told him to leave, and he did, only to get into their vehicle in the driveway. Confronted again, he fled on foot.

Arriving deputies were assisted by units from the Ellensburg Police Department, the Kittitas Police Department, and the Washington State Patrol attempting to find the suspect. The release said an alert citizen noticed a man running through a nearby property and flagged down a deputy, leading to a safe arrest. Mathews was booked for burglary and vehicle prowling. The investigation showed Mathews made entry using the garage door opener in the unlocked vehicle in front of the residence.

“Both these arrests are examples of the cooperation between citizens and all our local law enforcement agencies that’s essential for public safety and apprehending criminals,” Kittitas County Sheriff Clay Myers said in the release. “The fact these almost simultaneous incidents are unrelated only highlights the need for everyone to be alert to suspicious circumstances, lock and protect homes and vehicles, and keep an eye out for our neighbors and community.”


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