What began in December as a report of a burglary at the Lake Tapps Haggen, quickly turned into a mystery of a thief hiding in the store’s rafters. Thanks to a tipster, that mystery has been resolved with an arrest by Auburn police.
December 25, 2019 Burglary
Haggen employees reported a burglary December 26, 2019. The theft occurred the day prior when the store was closed for the Christmas Holiday. Approximately $6,500 worth of cigarettes were taken, as well as high-end liquor and expensive cheeses.
Auburn police officers found rope attached to the roof when investigating. Gloves, knee pads, and a pair of pliers were in the crawl space.
January 15th Incidents
Police were called back to the store January 15th when an employee witnessed a man through a missing ceiling tile in a storage closet. “Even while [police] searched, another employee saw the suspect briefly poke his head out of a small access portal in the store’s cashier’s room,” states the determination of probable cause (click to read the full document).
Police located empty beer cans, gloves, a small camera, an improvised scope, and electrical tape in the ceiling. They could not find the individual.
Police were recalled to the store later that same afternoon when the individual’s leg fell through a ceiling tile. A repairman also reported seeing the individual. Police were unable to locate the suspect during their second visit to Haggen that day.
“Officers went into the rafter two to three times. A K-9 was deployed one time. [Valley Regional Fire Authority also] assisted with the use of a FLIR (forward Looking Infrared camera), ” said Auburn Police Commander Mike Hirman.
“We believe he walked in and accessed the roof through closets, bathrooms, and other rafter access points,” continued Hirman. “We believe he was coming and going. If he stayed overnight, we are not aware.”
In the following days, officers found more items in the crawl space. Items included a backpack with some personal belongings, a cigarette pack matching the kind stolen on December 25th, and a copy of the store’s blueprints. “How he got the blueprints, we don’t know unless they were in an office somewhere,” said Hirman.
Who Moved My Cheese
Police released video surveillance of the December 25th burglary. The broadcast footage produced two reliable tips. One of the tipsters has known the individual for 20 years and has a son in common with the man.
“On Christmas day [the tipster’s] son received a call from the defendant,” states the determination of probable cause. “In the call, the defendant said he had a large amount of cigarettes for sale. He [also] recently sent [the tipster a] picture of a large block of cheese the kind sold by [Haggen] – asking her if she knows anyone who wants to buy it, writing, in part, “…long story $625, 2 wheels.”
“We don’t know who the woman was,” said Hirman, “but a female did attempt to return one of the large wheels of cheese.”
Weston Wiley, 40, was arrested by Auburn police on February 4th. Wiley, an unemployed roofer, lives less than three miles from the store in the Auburn Manor Mobile Home Park.
Police found suspected methamphetamine on Wiley. Located in the home were clothing and a bag that matched those in the surveillance video. Also found in the home were 18 packs of the type of cigarettes stolen from Haggen and a large block of cheese with a Haggen price tag. “The cheese cannot be re-sold by the store, so it was photographed for the case, then donated to the food bank,” stated an Auburn police Facebook post.
Hirman confirmed approximately $14,000 in product was stolen, and roughly $13,000 in damage was caused to the Haggen store.
Wiley has been charged with four counts in Pierce County: Burglary in the Second Degree, Theft in the First Degree, Burglary in the Second Degree, and Unlawful Possession of a Controlled Substance.
Court Commissioner Craig Adams ordered Wiley to be released on personal recognizance, placing him on electronic home monitoring.
“The Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office made a recommendation to the court that bail be set at $30,000 in this case. Our bail recommendation is based on several factors, including our view that public safety is paramount. The decision on release was the commissioner’s,” said Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office spokesperson Adam Faber.
Wiley is restricted from traveling outside of King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Thurston counties. He may not have contact with any alleged victims, witnesses, or any Haggen Grocery Stores. Wiley’s pre-trial services are being handled by Friendship Diversion Services. (Click here to read the Order Establishing Conditions of Release)
“I don’t know the whole story, but I believe in accountability,” said Mayor Nancy Backus.
At this time, Wiley’s pre-trial conference is set for February 19th. His jury trial is scheduled for March 19th.