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Originally published January 6, 2010 at 9:29 PM | Page modified January 7, 2010 at 7:09 PM

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Bag of teeth links man to Seattle-area dental burglaries

A man suspected in dozens of Seattle-area burglaries was arrested in Oregon on Monday.

Seattle Times staff reporter

The bag of teeth found on a North Seattle sidewalk was the link that police were looking for.

Shane Carlson had long been on the radar of Seattle-area police after his numerous arrests — and convictions — for car prowls, home burglaries and office break-ins. One Edmonds police detective describes the 26-year-old as "an equal-opportunity burglar."

But it wasn't until Carlson's fingerprints were identified on human teeth found in Seattle's Maple Leaf neighborhood in October that detectives linked him to a rash of unusual burglaries at dental clinics and dental laboratories in Seattle, said police and King County Deputy Prosecutor Maurice Classen.

Prosecutors allege that Carlson would steal gold fillings and raw gold used to make fillings and turn around and sell it at a tidy profit.

Police in Eugene, Ore., arrested Carlson during a Monday-night traffic stop on Interstate 5, said Eugene Police Detective Mitch Martin.

Officers had stopped the car that Carlson was riding in because it was towing a U-Haul trailer with expired tabs.

Carlson initially lied about his identity, and officers found several driver's licenses on him, Martin said. He was soon identified through fingerprints as the man wanted on several arrest warrants out of Seattle.

After searching the U-Haul on Wednesday, Eugene police linked Carlson to at least two commercial burglaries there, Martin said. In addition, Eugene police are investigating 38 other unsolved break-ins at businesses since Dec. 2, Martin added.

So far, Seattle police suspect Carlson in 35 burglaries, many at dental offices. Police in Edmonds, Lynnwood, Bothell, Mountlake Terrace, Marysville, Shoreline and Vancouver, Wash., have also linked him to late-night break-ins at businesses, said police and prosecutors.

Since last fall, Carlson has been arrested three different times on burglary and drug-possession charges, and each time he was able to bail out of the King County Jail, Classen said.

"It has been incredibly frustrating," Classen said. "We'll do everything in our power to make sure he won't get out of custody for a long time to come."

When Classen heard that Carlson was allegedly taking old teeth, with gold crowns, from dental offices, it was a first for him. But he wasn't surprised.

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"It shows they are willing to look anywhere for something they can pawn to make money," Classen said. "They have learned that dental offices keep scrap gold."

In one burglary, Carlson is believed to have stolen $10,000 worth of gold, said Seattle police Detective Nick Bauer.

Bauer said that pawning gold can be lucrative, with the metal commanding $1,000 per ounce. Carlson is believed to have spent his pawnshop earnings on OxyContin, Bauer said.

Bauer believes that after Carlson last bailed out of jail in November he headed south.

While Eugene police gather evidence, Carlson could possibly be returned to Seattle, where Classen said he is ready to push ahead with five pending charges — two counts of second-degree burglary, possession of stolen property, possession of OxyContin and possession of methamphetamine. An arrest warrant had been filed for Carlson for the five charges.

Once Carlson returns to the King County Jail he will be held on at least $1 million bail and faces a stiff prison sentence because he will be prosecuted under the repeat-burglary initiative, where prosecutors push for the stiffest possible punishment for prolific criminals, Classen said.

Carlson also is wanted in Snohomish County for second-degree burglary, attempting to elude police, malicious mischief and identity theft, Classen added.

In King County, Carlson has been convicted of two counts of vehicle theft since he turned 18. He had a long juvenile rap sheet for robbery, theft and four vehicle thefts, Classen said.

"He's been a pain in our rear and he always seems to get out of jail and commit crimes," said Edmonds police Detective Dave Miller. "I don't think that's going to happen this time. I think he's finally met his match and will get some significant time."

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com

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