By Chris Hendrickson, Contributing Writer
A suspect was apprehended by Snohomish County Sheriff’s deputies on March 25 within about 12 hours of stealing over one-fifth of the inventory at Sultan Pharmacy and Natural Care. March 26, he had already been released from Snohomish County Jail.
According to police documents, the suspect was caught on surveillance photos inside the Sultan Pharmacy, which is located at 505 W. Stevens Ave. in Sultan, at 12:38 a.m. on Tuesday, March 25.
The suspect had shattered the glass in the front door to gain entry, cutting his hand and dripping blood throughout the store as he rapidly swept prescription bottles off the shelves, shoving them into a box for easy transport. At one point, the suspect left the pharmacy, only to return when he allegedly didn’t observe any immediate police response.
Upon viewing surveillance photos, the suspect was immediately recognized by Snohomish County Sheriff’s deputies, who began the search. The suspect was located at a nearby residence, and when he tried to flee, was apprehended by a K9 unit, sustaining a dog bite in the process.
He was booked into the Snohomish County Jail on March 25 at 3:20 p.m., after receiving treatment for the dog bite. Sultan Pharmacy owner Greg Hovander was impressed with the speed in which the sheriff’s office was able to locate the suspect and arrest him. He was not so impressed to discover that the suspect was released from jail the very next day.
“Lo and behold the next day, 25-and-a-half hours later, they released him without any bail,” said Hovander. “I couldn’t believe it.”
Hovander wonders why the suspect was able to get out of jail so quickly, and further, why no bail amount was set. He is worried that, with such inconsequential repercussions, the suspect will simply return to burglarize him again.
“I have to worry about this day and night now,” said Hovander.
In addition to shattering the front door, the burglar wreaked havoc on the inside of the store by knocking over merchandise and dumping cases of medications onto the floor, some of which were expired and marked for return to the manufacturer.
It was a mess that took Hovander hours to sort out. Pharmacy employees stated that cleaning up the mess was only half the battle. A problematic slew of paperwork is required any time medications are stolen, and many items needed to be reordered quickly so that the pharmacy could continue to serve its customers.
Hovander shared that, throughout his 40-year career as a pharmacist, burglaries, unfortunately, come with the territory. He stated that pharmacies seem to be an “attraction that undesirables can’t resist.” Hovander also stated that this is the first time the police have successfully apprehended a suspect in any of his burglaries.
“And then to let him go within 25-and-a-half hours is unbelievable,” said Hovander. “What’s the good of catching him if he can’t be penalized and made to pay a price for what he’s done?”
According to the prosecutor’s office, this type of scenario is not uncommon, particularly with property crimes considered to be non-violent crimes. Due to overcrowding in Snohomish County Jail, suspects from these crimes are often released pending charges being filed.
Once the investigation is sent from the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office to the office of the prosecutor, the case will be reviewed by the deputy prosecuting attorney who will determine if felony charges should be filed. If and when the prosecutor files formal charges, an arraignment will be scheduled. During the arraignment, the charges are formally presented to the suspect.
After that, the matter goes to trial, unless a plea agreement is reached first.
Unfortunately, the suspect in this case has a long history of not showing up for court. He also has other potential felony cases which are still pending. In February, police apprehended this same suspect after he was spotted with a backpack that had been stolen from inside a Sultan residence the previous night.
According to police documents, the suspect allegedly crept into the Sultan home in the middle of the night while the family was home, and stole a backpack out of their living room. He also took the keys to a 2010 Ford F150 pickup truck. The homeowner woke to discover his backpack gone and his truck missing.
Once the suspect was detained and formally arrested on another outstanding warrant, sheriff’s deputies obtained a search warrant that enabled them to examine the contents of the backpack. In it, they located an ID card bearing the burglary victim’s name, as well as keys to the burglary victim’s truck.
The suspect’s extensive criminal history was another reason that Hovander was dismayed that he was able to get out of jail so quickly.
Hovander shared that he will have a difficult time resting until the individual who got away with one-fifth of his pharmaceutical inventory is back in jail. He is very grateful for support he has gotten from members of the community who have observed break-in attempts and other incidents of casing over the winter, and have gone out of their way to intercede on Hovander’s behalf.
“It’s not the police’s fault that people are being burglarized,” said Hovander. “They can’t be everyplace all the time.”
Unfortunately, said Hovander, this time, a delay in law enforcement response time enabled the burglar to get away with more merchandise than ever before.
“That was really just a freak, lucky thing for him,” said Hovander.
Hovander is an expert in the field of Pharmacognosy, which is the study of medicines derived from natural sources and ingredients. He is interested in naturopathic medicine, and has taught classes at Bastyr University located in Kenmore. He is educated in a technique referred to as compounding, which is the customization of prescription medications in an effort to better suit a patient’s needs.
He also specializes in providing health consultations. To contact Sultan Pharmacy, call (360) 799-2383.