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Juneau police searching for thief weighed down by stolen quarters

Jerzy Shedlock

Juneau police are on the lookout for bulging pockets, as someone has stolen about $1,500 in quarters from coin machines at a laundromat, a car wash and other local businesses in Alaska’s capital city.

Four separate incidents have prompted the Juneau Police Department to request the public to “take note of anyone in possession of a significant number of quarters,” according to a press release.

The quarter culprit or team -- police are unsure how many people are responsible -- has stolen from various businesses laden with quarters.

One such business has been robbed twice, police say. On Sept. 27 and Oct. 19, police took separate reports of burglaries involving the laundry and showers at Auke Bay, located at the northwest end of Juneau and home to the University of Alaska Southeast.

The suspect reportedly grabbed more than $1,000 in quarters. During the second heist, a thin male wearing a black hoodie was spotted.

About two weeks following the second incident, two more burglaries were reported. Police received an early-morning call about damaged change machines at Rainway Car Wash. “Someone apparently tried to break open the change machines but was unsuccessful,” the release said.

When the quarter machines proved too tough for the culprit, he or she broke into the business’ office and took $400 worth of quarters.

The second reported burglary occurred on Halloween night. While kids were busy collecting candy, someone removed the coin box from a laundry machine in an apartment building.

That’s four incidents in which a suspect has escaped with heavy, jingling loads of change. But the person or people responsible has a long way to go to match an Alaskan “doomsday prepper” who stole more than $400,000 in coins over eight years and built an off-the-grid hideaway boasting a home gym, a hot tub and a Gatling gun on a swivel mount.

Perhaps arcade claw games will be the next target? It’s a well-known fact they are rigged, and they’re likely as full of silver booty as they are of tantalizing stuffed animals.

Calls to the car wash and Juneau Police Department were not immediately returned Tuesday.

For now, Juneau police are requesting that anyone with information send tips through the Juneau Crime Line website, a community nonprofit that helps police with investigations. The website offers tipsters anonymity and rewards of up to $1,000 -- hopefully, not paid in quarters.

Contact Jerzy Shedlock at jerzy(at)alaskadispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter @jerzyms.