Two Puyallup men -- Allen M. Ruedinger, 24, and Jeremy Warren Smith, 20 -- face arraignment on Feb. 13 after being charged with a string of burglaries in Bellevue and Mercer Island.
Prosecutors say the two men are suspects in more than a dozen burglaries in King and Pierce counties over the last several months, typically breaking in after driving neighborhoods slowly in a car with tinted windows and watching for people leaving their homes.
Bellevue police say they could be responsible for far more than that, suspecting them of burglaries in Bothell, Renton, Newcastle, Puyallup, Renton, Federal Way and Kirkland as well. Mercer Island police believe two men are responsible for more than 20 burglaries on Mercer Island alone. However, a Kirkland police spokesman told Patch Wednesday that department knows of no connection.
Charging documents detail how the pair allegedly sold stolen jewelry, electronics and guns, including jewelry to the owner of a watch shop at a South Hill mall in Puyallup, a South Hill rare coin dealer and to pawn and jewelry shops in the Puyallup area.
Ruedinger and Smith were charged in King County Superior Court on Jan. 31 with four counts of residential burglary, one count each of trafficking in stolen property and theft of a firearm. They remain in the King County Jail, with bail set at $200,000.
The two men were arrested in Puyallup on Jan. 27, shortly after a burglary on Mercer Island, and had been under surveillance for more than two weeks by the undercover Bellevue Police Department Special Enforcement Team.
Charging documents say Ruedinger confessed after being arrested that he and Smith had been burglarizing homes for months. Their typical approach was to cruise slowly through neighborhoods in Ruedinger’s Volkswagen Jetta, which had tinted windows, waiting until they spotted people leaving a home. They would follow those people until they left the area, then return to the neighborhood.
According to the charging documents, Ruedinger would park a few homes away while Smith committed the burglary, keeping an open cell phone line so Ruedinger could alert Smith if anyone approached.
After selling the goods, the pair would split the proceeds, with 80 percent going to Smith and 20 percent to Ruedinger, according to the documents. Some of the burglaries were lucrative, with the pair finding $2000 cash in one Bellevue home and a .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol marked “US Army” in another. The gun was later sold to an unidentified woman in Pierce County.
The four burglary charges against them are for burglaries in Mercer Island and Bellevue. Prosecutors say more charges could be filed. Police say three Pierce County associates of Smith and Ruediger are under investigation for helping sell the stolen property.
Smith has no known criminal convictions, but has an open case in which he is charged in Pierce County with two counts of trafficking in stolen property. Ruedinger has one 2003 juvenile conviction for indecent liberties.
Smith and Ruedinger will be arraigned in King County Superior Court on Feb. 13.