Memories of summer months spent at Bruce and Tracy Rosa’s property on Big Eddy Road live within the walls of their cabins and garage as well as in their fishing gear. The rod with which one of Tracy’s nieces, when she was 5 years old, caught her first king salmon, and the pair of waders her husband gave to her as a birthday gift one year are just two of items of fishing equipment that carry sentimental value for the couple.
Every summer the couple returns from California to their Kenai Peninsula property, which they own with Tracy’s brother Scott Lloyd and his wife Suzanne.
“We really feel like sort of locals up there,” Tracy said, “and we’ve got so many friends up there now.”
The couple is now counting on their Alaska friends and the Alaska State Troopers to help them deal with the recent burglary and vandalism to their beloved property.
The crime was discovered on April 16 when a borough assessor noticed signs of forced entry on some property on Big Eddy Road and notified authorities.
Much of their fishing gear, along with some vehicle equipment was stolen. Without being at the property, it’s difficult for the couples to be entirely sure what is missing based on photos they received of their vandalized home.
“It made us sick to our stomach. We’re talking about 15-plus years of fishing gear and memories acquired,” Tracy Rosa said.
It’s the memories associated with gifts the couples received from guests as a thank you for welcoming them into their home they will miss most.
“The things that were given as thank you gifts to us (are irreplaceable). It’s not like we can just can just walk into Trustworthy and say, ‘Hey, we’ll buy your whole fishing area.’”
But getting their things back isn’t what’s important to Rosa.
“I think we understand that it’s unlikely we’ll get any of our stuff back. That’s not really the point. The point is that we want to catch these people.”
The couples have been able to narrow down when the crime occurred with the help of their electrical bill. The bill runs flat while the couples are away, but they discovered an unusual spike in electricity use in early April indicating when the vandals violated the property.
“It’s such a violation and so much damage,” Rosa said. “… I think even more so than the theft of items was the vandalism was really over the top.”
Tracy said the photos of her vandalized property left her nauseated and wondering who would do something like that. After the shock wore off, the couples dove into trying to get things taken care of from California.
“That’s one of the most frustrating things is just not being there; being able to manage it in person,” Rosa said.
With their jobs in California, it’s difficult for the couples to get to the Kenai Peninsula to assess the damage and stolen items in person. Rosa’s brother, Scott Lloyd, plans to get up here in May. Bruce Rosa, a recently retired sergeant with El Dorado County, will be coming up at the end of June. Tracy Rosa, who works as a registered nurse, will follow in July.
Not being able to get up there sooner to deal with the situation in person and start cleaning their property has left the couples feeling like they “don’t have control of the situation,” she said.
A Big Eddy Road neighbor, Joe Baldwin, whose buildings were also broken into, said this is the fifth time his property has been broken into since 1980. Every time his property has been broken into he has never had anything of significant value stolen. He said in this case his property was “ransacked” and most of the vandalism and theft occurred at the Rosas’ and Lloyds’ propoerty.
Unfortunately cabin burglaries aren’t that uncommon Alaska State Trooper Sgt. James Truesdell said.
Baldwin spends the winter in Anchorage and checks on the properties “now and then” as do some other family and friends when they are in the area.
The neighbors plan to discuss security measures when they are able to get together.
Alaska State Trooper Ethan Norwood, who is working on the case, has some tips for snowbirds or anyone leaving their home for an extended period of time:
* Lock buildings.
* Hide items of value from places of public view.
* Ask someone you trust to check on your property.
* Install a security system — an alarm, camera or both.
“The more you can do for yourself the more we can help you,” Norwood said.
The couples are offering a $1,000 reward for the conviction of the responsible person or persons. If you have information for this case, call Alaska State Troopers at 907-262-4453 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-478-4258.
“It might take some time,” Tracy said, “but I really feel that we’re going to catch them.”
Kaylee Osowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.