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Property crimes take a back seat to major crimes in Pierce County while sheriff’s office faces deputy shortage

GIG  HARBOR, Wash. --  A Gig Harbor small business owner says she’s worried about what she sees as an increase in property crimes in her area.  The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department polices much of the area near her store and home in Purdy, but the department is facing a deputy shortage that forces them to prioritize their response and investigative efforts.

Sunday night, Marnie Farmer’s LLC owner Marnie Kirk and son sort through some new inventory.

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“It’s kind of like Christmas all the time,” said Kirk. “A wonderful community full of great people."

The store is in Gig Harbor, but they call Purdy home.

It’s quiet towns like Purdy, that Marnie says are starting to see more crimes by thieves looking for an easy target.

“There’s a reason they come out and go way deep in the KP and go ahead and rob and they know the response time is going to be slow, if at all,” said Kirk.

Marnie says homeless people and drug users try to pawn things in her store she thinks they stole from homes and businesses.

“They’ll say their grandmother died and they’ll have a bunch of jewelry.  Lots of tools people breaking into sheds. They’re kind of easy things to hit,” said Kirk.

But property crimes will take a back seat to big city crimes hitting a quiet Key Peninsula.

“We’ve had six homicides this week, one suicide, three different calls, a treehouse burning, a shooting, a double homicide, a parent and two little toddlers killed all in a week period,” said Pierce County Sheriff Detective Ed Troyer.

With the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department already short on deputies, major crimes like a gas station robbery at knife-point in Gig Harbor take precedence.

“Our guys are staying busy. We don’t have large teams of detectives it’s the same group that’s going out every single night,” said Troyer.

Marnie says she knows resources are stretched thin and she’s not blaming the sheriff’s office.  She says community policing is growing.

“Everyone keeps their eye out.  Hey, there’s a car that’s been out here and we just want to know what’s going on,” said Kirk

Marnie says she does have some concerns that community policing may go too far.  She says some of her neighbors are armed and may take justice into their own hands.