Story last updated at 11:15 a.m. Thursday, July 11, 2002

Weekend crime keeps police busy
by Carey James
Staff Writer

With crowds of campers and visitors in town to celebrate the Fourth of July, Homer Police reported a busy weekend of crime and commotion that included two stolen vehicles, three vehicle break-ins, two vandalized bathrooms and a runaway boat, to name a few.

Homer Police Department Lt. Randy Rosencrans said several of the incidents, including the two vehicle thefts and three vehicle break-ins, can be attributed to a single individual. Rosencrans said charges against the individual have been referred to the district attorney's office, but no charges have been filed yet.

Police recovered both vehicles, as well as other stolen items and even some stolen items not connected to Homer thefts.

Rosencrans said it was a busy weekend, compared with past Fourth of July weekends, but considering the crowds in town, things went well.

"There were a lot of people in town, so this type of thing is expected," he said.

Several people were arrested for driving while under the influence of alcohol, more than in past years, Rosencrans said. The number of these arrests has been high all year, he said, and last weekend was even higher. The arrests include several felony charges of drunk driving, which occur on the third offense since 1996.

Rosencrans said one of the prime targets for crime was people's coolers at area campgrounds. The coolers are sometimes stolen by people hoping to find alcohol inside, but instead, wind up with a family's entire catch of fish, which the criminals then throw away.

"There's a lot of that type of thing," he said. "We try to warn people to make sure and keep their coolers secured."

Another crime that kept police jumping was chasing down people illegally using fireworks.

"There were a lot of people violating the fireworks laws," he said, adding that a lot of people don't realize how dangerous fireworks are in dry conditions like the southern peninsula has recently seen.

One incident that did not involve any charges certainly caused a commotion. A full-sized boat being pulled from Homer Harbor small boat launch ramp on Saturday came loose and careened down the ramp. The boat struck another truck on the ramp, pushing it into the water and totaling the vehicle.

Rosencrans said several bystanders narrowly missed being injured in the accident, and an Alaska State Trooper diver was able to attach a tow rope onto the submerged truck before fuel or motor fluids created an environmental hazard.

Rosencrans said overall, though busy, the weekend passed without too many adventures.

"There were a lot more people in town than we normally expect," he said. "But for the amount of people that were in town, I think we kept things under control."