It was not a good weekend for local merchants. Over the Nov. 20-21 weekend, four separate businesses suffered losses when a burglar or burglars gained entry and took what they could.
According to Chief Rich Cortese of the Bingen-White Salmon Police Department, the businesses hit included Comb & Brush, Mark's Auto Repair, and the Elk's Lodge, all in White Salmon, and Chips Tavern in Bingen.
The owners came to work on Monday and discovered the break-ins.
"It was mostly cash that was taken," Cortese said.
Among the four businesses, approximately $4,000 in cash was stolen. At Chips, the thief or thieves also carted off $1,200 worth of cigarette cartons. At Mark's Auto Repair, meanwhile, a Ford pickup truck in for repair was stolen.
Cortese said there was no sign of forced entry in two of the businesses. With the other two, entry was apparently gained by prying open windows.
On Monday, police located the truck in the Thriftway parking lot, and subsequently arrested a 17-year-old juvenile. The juvenile suspect was lodged in the youth detention facility in The Dalles, was charged with possession of stolen property.
Shirley Cox, co-owner of Mark's Auto Repair, said this was the first time the business has been the target of a burglary since it opened in 1982.
"It's sure disappointing," Cox said. "You feel violated."
As of press time, police were not sure whether there were additional suspects at large in the string of thefts. The investigation is ongoing.
Cox said she believed more than one person was involved.
"I think there was some thought put into this," explained Cox. "At our business, they took cash and two flashlights. I presume they were getting the flashlights to use at other jobs."
Cortese reminded merchants not to leave large sums of cash at their place of business when they are not present.
"Owners need to take caution and make sure they don't leave money at their place of business, and make sure their windows and doors are locked up," Cortese said.
"For those of us who got hit -- and others too -- more security will have to be implemented," Cox added. "It's an indication of the times; even little White Salmon is not immune to this."
Cortese asked residents and business owners to keep an eye out for any "people who look like they don't belong," and to watch for anyone with a large amount of cigarettes, which have not been recovered.
"They may try to sell them," Cortese said.
Anyone with any information on the break-ins is requested to call the local police office at 493-1177.