A group of Gold Bar residents have banded together to address crime they believe needs more management.

Former Gold Bar City Councilmember Chris Wright is leading the newly formed Sky Valley Community Watch Dogs coalition. The first meeting was held at the tail end of December, and was in part a response to the search for registered sex offender Brett Card, who is linked to at least one of many recent burglaries that have been reported around town since November.

An 18-year-old was at home last month when the 26-year-old, also known in the community as “Wildcard,” entered. The house was not secured at the time. Card fled once he figured out he wasn’t alone.

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office was finally taken into custody on Thursday, Jan. 11. The group has been picketing that spot to show their disapproval.

The person or people responsible for the string of recent successful and attempted burglaries have been forcibly breaking into homes.

“It is everything — it is the burglaries, it’s the dope,” Wright said. “It’s the general fact that if you leave something in your yard, someone is going to take it.”

The proliferation of drugs is alarming, Wright said. It’s not just heroin, it’s a variety of substances. Many of the users are well known throughout the community, he said.

“It is progressively getting worse,” he said. “More and more drugs are coming into this valley.”

He said he believes the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office is doing everything it can, but its resources are stretched thin in rural areas like the U.S. Highway 2 corridor. Unfortunately, he said, it is not enough for the community.

Wright said he has told the agency and other groups about his intentions, which are not to work in any way against law enforcement efforts. The group wants to help contribute more resources to addressing criminal activity and keep an eye out for one another. 

The system is different from a block watch, Wright said. Volunteers will walk or drive the streets in participating cities during scheduled patrols. They can help identify and alert neighbors to known drug houses, and report anything that seems actively suspicious, he said.

Wright said no one will conduct an investigation or take a situation into their own hands. They will gather what information they can and ensure it’s accurate. Then they will let the community and sheriff’s office know about what they find, he said.

The Gold Bar resident has lived in the city for nearly a decade. Wright said he has wanted to do more to curb crime in the Sky Valley for a long time — there is only so much one can do as an elected official.

He said the intent is to assist in areas anywhere from Monroe to Skykomish.

Wright said the response to the Watch Dogs has been massive. It was standing-room only during the Dec. 30 meeting held at the local fire station.  There are more than 300 people in the group.

“I kicked it off by introducing myself and letting them know my history with the city, and what I have done, and that I was angry with how things have transpired in the city,” he said. “Most of the discussion was about how could we fix it.”

The closed social media page Wright created to coordinate and connect with residents and volunteers drew hundreds of members in only a few weeks. He said he doesn’t want to let just anyone in to ensure sensitive information does not get leaked out.

Anyone who participates will act within the law, Wright said. The sheriff’s office also told him to encourage people to sign up for the agency’s volunteer program for residents, and about a dozen people have done so already. There is a modified patrol vehicle stationed in Sultan that vetted members could use if they have the proper training and are cleared to do so, he said.

Wright said he hopes next to more closely collaborate with the sheriff’s office, Gold Bar’s new mayor Bill Clem and officials from other neighboring communities. The next meeting is this Saturday, and will include a sheriff’s office representative

“You can only call 911 so many times,” he said.