Two men arrested last week may each be the Inland Northwest's version of the Grinch.
Steven J. Karvela, 39, is suspected of stealing Christmas package from Spokane homes, then selling the would-be gifts at pawn shops. Joseph Michael O’Masters, 43, of Hayden Lake, was arrested in Coeur d'Alene that same day for grand theft after police found him with stolen property worth more than $1,275 in the 3200 block of West Manning Loop.
Spokane police were on alert after several thefts were reported in Spokane and Kootenai counties when a woman reported a package stolen by a man in a Honda-type car. She wrote down what she thought was a license plate, and police spotted a 1992 Ford Escort with a similar plate outside a Spokane pawn shop on Christmas Eve.
Police stopped the car, and the driver, later identified as Karvela, said he lent his drug dealer his car and, in return, the dealer told him he could sell any property left in the car, according to court documents.
Karvela told police that he "know the property was 'probably' stolen, that he was 'in trouble' and that he was going to prison," police wrote.
Karvela had pawned several expensive items in the last couple of days, police said.
He's in custody at Geiger Correction Center on $5,000 bond after appearing in Superior Court on Monday on stolen property charges.
Thefts have been reported in the South Hill area near Cannon Hill, near Whitworth College and in the deeper southeast areas of south Spokane, police said. Victims should report thefts to Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.