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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: car theft

Pair of alleged ‘best friend’ teenage car thieves arrested

A pair of teenagers accused of stealing multiple cars they dumped when the gas ran out are both in jail facing auto and firearm theft charges.

Eli Olson, 19, was booked into Spokane County Jail on Friday after police pulled him over driving a Dodge SUV that had been reported stolen, along with a .45 caliber handgun that had been in the vehicle at the time it was taken. Olson said he was high on methamphetamine at the time of his arrest and that he'd stolen the car along with 18-year-old Austyn Witcher, who is “like a brother to him,” according to court documents.

In a subsequent interview, Olson said he and Witcher stole five vehicles that had been reported stolen by “punching the ignition,” manipulating the starter so that it can be engaged by a screwdriver, according to court documents. The two ditched the stolen vehicles when they stopped running and broke into another nearby car, their preference being Dodge and Nissan model cars, Olson said.

Witcher was subsequently arrested driving a 2000 Dodge truck that had also been reported stolen. Investigators recovered a gun in his belongings at a girlfriend's apartment, but the .45 handgun is thought to have been sold on the West Side, earning Witcher an additional money laundering charge.

Bail was set for Olson and Witcher on their charges at $25,000 and $50,000, respectively.

Accused car thief back in court

A man with a long history of felony and misdemeanor crimes was back in court again Tuesday, facing his fifth charge relating to car theft in the past year.

Nickolas N. Davis, 28, was ordered held on $7,500 bond on his most recent charge of theft of a motor vehicle. In 2013 he was charged with possession of a stolen vehicle four times and pled guilty to attempting to elude a police vehicle. Spokane County Superior Court Judge Greg Sypolt also imposed a $7,500 bond on each of the 2013 stolen vehicle cases, which have not yet gone to trial.

Sypolt noted that Davis has failed to appear in court 25 times and his previous cases include charges of intimidating a witness and bribing a witness.

Davis was released to the care of American Behavior Health Systems on Jan. 22 for a drug treatment program and ordered to appear in drug court, but court documents state that Davis never showed up for court. He was arrested Monday driving a car that he allegedly stole from a former girlfriend, court documents state.

 

Woman crashes stolen car into house

Police released this photo of the crash at North Pittsburg Street and East Wabash Avenue Wednesday.

A woman being pursued by police crashed a stolen car into a house in north Spokane Wednesday then tried to hide in a stranger's garage, police say.

Kristina M. Groce, 21, ran from the crash at 4906 N. Pittsburg St. and entered a home at 1711 E. Wabash Ave., uninvited, asked to use the phone and told the homeowner not to call police, according to court documents.

Officer Dan Cole tried to stop Groce after realizing the 2003 Toyota Celica she was driving was stolen. Cole said Groce drove over 60 mph and ran a stop sign at Wabash and North Nevada Street before crashing into the home.

“Luckily no children were in the yard,” police wrote on Facebook.

The car's owner was at a laundromat earlier that day when someone grabbed his keys and stole his it, police say.

Groce was booked into jail for possession of a stolen motor vehicle and attempting to elude police.

Tips sought on CdA gun, car thefts

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that solve a gun and car theft at a Coeur d'Alene business.

Someone entered Tate Engineering, 1103 N. 4th St., early July 30 and stolen two guns and credit cards, as well as a 2003 GMC Sierra pickup.

The truck has “Tate Engineering” written on both doors and is black with Idaho plates K462722.

Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters do not have to leave their name to collect a reward but should lave a code name or number.

Dump truck joy ride strikes power lines

Police say a man stole a dump truck and took it on a drunken joy ride that destroyed light poles and power lines in the city of Colville.

Robert Gene Bankston Hartman, 28, told officers he didn't mean to knock down the lines when he stole the dump truck from a construction site and drove it through town. He said he'd had about 14 beers when police confronted him about 9:45 p.m. on July 23, but later told police he'd actually been drinking vodka.

Police had heard residents were trapped in their homes at South Wynne Street and West Columbia Avenue because of down power lines. They soon realized Hartman and the stolen dump truck were to blame. Hartman abandoned the truck at 1st Street and Railroad Street and ran, but an officer blocked his path with his police car.

About 1,400 people lost power for about two hours because of the melee. The area extended from Highway 395 at Pingston Creek to just south of Colville, from Valley Westside just east of Colville High School, police said.

One witness told police that Hartman was laughing while he was striking the power lines.

Hartman's blood alcohol level registered at .226 and .220. The legal limit for driving is .08.

Hartman is charged with first-degree malicious mischief, second-degree taking a motor vehicle without permission and drunken driving.

2 charged in attempted carjacking

Two suspected car thieves tried to steal a vehicle from a stranger outside a north Spokane restaurant, police say.

 Bennie Lee Carson, 31, and Charles A. Nickens, 27, followed the man north on North Division Street and confronted him when he pulled into the McDonald's parking lot at Division and East Heroy Avenue about 7:15 a.m. on June 27, according to police.

The victim said one of the men reached into his waistband as he approached and made it appear as though he had a firearm. The other man told the victim “he liked his rims and wanted his keys so he could drive his car.”

Wright refused and “aggressively walked past” the men and into McDonald's, where he called police. A friend who was to meet the victim at the McDonald's that morning witnessed the incident an through the men were perhaps confronting him over a driving dispute.

The victim's friend is an Avista meter reader who said he considered using his “dog stick” meter reader to stop an assault should it occur, according to court documents.

Police found the car in the Shadle Park Wal-Mart later that day. One of the occupants said she got the car from a man named Bennie, “a car thief who steals and traffics in stolen vehicles,” police wrote.

Carson and Nickens were charged last week with second-degree robbery and possession of a stolen motor vehicle - police say they car they followed the victim in was stolen.

Carson also faces possession of stolen motor vehicle charges for cars found at his home at 2415 E. 1st Ave., where police believes he strips stolen vehicles, in June when police responded to a report that he was assaulting his girlfriend. The home also was the target of a SWAT team heroin bust in March.

Carson was arrested on car theft charges July 1. Nickens also was arrested last month and has been in jail since. Prosecutors filed charges for the attempted robbery on Aug. 2.

Exercising man loses BMW, gun, wallet

A car was recovered minutes after it was stolenin north Spokane recently when the alleged thief’s friend turned him in.

The 73-year-old owner, Robert B. Renz, parked his 2006 BMW at 8121 N. Division St. before exercising at the North Park Athletic Club on Friday.

Renz secured his wallet and keys in a locker, but someone opened the locker and stole them, then stole his BMW with a loaded Smith and Wesson .357 revolver inside, according to court documents.

Before he saw his car was missing, Renz was informed by the front desk that a man called and said he knew where the stolen BMW was.

That man told police his friend Matthew J. Gillette, 23, called him looking to sell a gray 2006 BMW. The man said he knew Gillette stole the car from the athletic club, so he called club employees and returned it to Renz.

But the gun and Renz’s wallet containing $400 still were missing. Soon, a person described in court documents as someone “who has been given special police considerations” told police Gillette was at the McDonald’s parking lot on North Division, near the athletic club.

Police arrested him there, and he told them the gun was in his room at the Howard Johnson Inn. He said he dumped the wallet, which included Renz’s military identification, in a Dumpster behind Jack in the Box and spent the cash on Oxycodone “to keep him from getting sick,” according to court documents.

Police retrieved the gun and booked Gillette into jail on charges of theft of a motor vehicle, theft of a firearm, second-degree theft, trafficking in stolen property and unlawful possession of a firearm.

Gillette has felony drug and forgery convictions that prohibit him from possessing firearms. He was jailed on $20,000 for the new charges and $20,000 warrant for theft and stolen property charges filed July 10.

Who is this Coeur d’Alene car prowler?

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Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that help identify a man caught on tape trying to break into vehicles at a Coeur d'Alene car lot.

Surveillance video shows the man trying to enter locked vehicles at Midtown Motors, 1008 N. 4th St., July 14 about 4:50 a.m.

Anyone with information on the man's identity is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters do not have to give their name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.

Police eluder left prison 3 months ago

A Spokane man released from prison in April is back behind bars after leading police on a chase in a stolen car, authorities allege.

Zachary J. Schackel, 26, is to be arraigned today on charges of theft of a motor vehicle and attempting to elude police after a man awoke to the sound of his vehicle being started up and stolen from his driveway on July 17.

Officer Mario Juarez followed the victim's vehicle and tried to stop it at Mission and Hamilton, but it sped away. Juarez had to stop because he flattened a tire on spike strips meant for Schackel's vehicle, according to court documents.

Officer Ron Van Tassel continued pursuing the vehicle before it spun out near Upriver Drive and Frederick Street and the driver tried to run. Van Tassel chased the driver for a couple hundred yards before the man caught himself on an electric fence and was arrested, police say.

Schackel told police he'd recently smoked marijuana, documents say. He also had a suspended license.

Schackel was arrested on the new charges as well as a Washington Department of Corrections warrant.

In 2008, he was sentenced to 4 years and 9 months in prison after being found guilty of attempting to elude a police vehicle, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, reckless driving, and second-degree operating with a suspended license. He was released on April 21 and is on probation, according to the DOC.

Police push ‘Remove it or Lose It!’

The advice to citizens from Spokane police is simple: Take valuables out of cars or risk being a willing victim of vehicle prowlers waiting to smash, grab and go.

In response to a rash of prowling-related crimes across the Spokane area, police launched an awareness campaign this month called “Remove It or Lose It!” The campaign urges citizens to be proactive by taking possessions out of vehicles, parking cars in well-lit areas and locking doors.

“It’s such an easy crime to commit,” said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, Spokane police spokeswoman. “If people don’t leave their stuff out in plain sight, there is nothing there to steal.”

Read the rest of Sara McMullen's story here.

Owner, neighbor stop church car thief

Two men stopped a car theft in progress and held the suspect until police arrived, authorities say.

Brandon A. Huffman, 30, is accused of trying to steal the car after finding it parked and running in back of a church at 728 E. Rich Ave. about 6:30 p.m. Friday.

Victim Terry Palmer said he was sitting on the front porch of the church when a neighbor ran up and told him a man was stealing his car

Palmer ran to the car and grabbed the driver's side door but flew off when the thief hit a curb while driving in reverse. Palmer and the neighbor, Jay Gillette, pulled Huffman from the car and held him until officers arrested him.

Spokane felon found asleep in stolen car

A repeat offender with a history of car theft was arrested after being found asleep at the wheel of a stolen car that was still running.

 Eric T. Clapper, who turned 28 on Friday, was inside a 2006 Subaru Legacy that was blocking traffic in a parking lot at 2110 E. North Crescent Ave. when Spokane police Officer Casey Jones arrived about 8:45 a.m. on Saturday.

Clapper told police a woman named Christine let him use the car and that if it was stolen, “I didn't do it,” according to court documents.

Clapper “pleaded to be let go and that he didn't do anything wrong,” Jones wrote.

Clapper, a former Crime Stoppers fugitive, was booked into jail on a felony charge of possession of a motor vehicle. He has previous convictions for driving on a suspended license, vehicle theft, assault, drug possession, attempting to elude police, theft, violating court order, obstructing a police investigation, minor possessing alcohol and probation violations.

Man arrested w/ stolen SUV after chase

A man was arrested at gunpoint early Sunday after leading a state trooper on a high-speed chase from Interstate 90 to the Gonzaga University area.

Charles A. Castro, 31, was driving a black SUV east on the freeway when he changed lanes to take the Division Street exit about 3:45 a.m., then suddenly swerved back and continued driving erratically, according to the Washington State Patrol.

The trooper tried to pull him over, but Castro continued driving on the shoulder before exiting the freeway

Its doors sprung open but the SUV, which had been stolen in Sandpoint, continued driving; the trooper believes the passengers were thinking about jumping from the vehicle but decided against it.

The SUV sped north on Hamilton through flashing red lights and a cross walk before driving in the wrong lanes and coming to a stop in the middle of the intersection of East Cleveland Avenue and North Dakota Street.

Castro told police he had a warrant for missing court and had meth in his front pocket. He said he his passengers didn't know the car was stolen and that he was giving them a ride from the casino.

Police found meth in the SUV's center console. Castro was taken to jail, then to a hospital after he told officers “that he had swallowed a bunch of meth during the pursuit,” according to court documents.

Castro was treated at a hospital, then booked into jail on eluding police and stolen vehicle charges, as well as two Spokane County warrants for drug and stolen vehicle charges.
  

Car stolen at knifepoint during cleaning

A woman was carjacked as she vacuumed her Chevy Camaro at a car wash near Browne's Addition Saturday night, Spokane police say.

Larry D. Vermillion, 43, is accused of stealing the woman's car at knifepoint from the Brown Bear car wash, 1821 W. Sunset Ave., about 8 p.m., then drunkenly driving through downtown Spokane before colliding with a taxi cab.

Phyla J. Beell flagged down police and said the man told her “Steve” sent him before he threatened her with the knife, according to court documents. Beell told police she climbed out the driver's window of her 1993 Camaro because the driver's door doesn't open.

Beell contacted a friend inside the Sunset Junction, and the two chased the stolen Camaro down West Third Avenue before losing site of it on South Howard Street.

Police say the Camaro crossed lanes, went the wrong way and slowed down to about 5 mph to drive through a parking lot before running a red light at Third and South Browne Street and being struck by the taxi.

Vermillion was booked into jail on charges of first-degree robbery, second-degree assault and attempting to elude police.
  

Two arrested after high-speed chase

Two young people in a stolen car led a sheriff's deputy on a high-speed chase in Spokane Valley on Thursday.

Jordy Scott DeBoer, 20, and Nicole Dawn Singer, 23, were in a green Honda Accord when Deputy Brian Hirzel tried to stop it near North Pines Road and East Valleyway Avenue.

The driver, identified by police as DeBoer, fled at speeds of about 70 mph in the 35 mph zone, driving through residential area, blowing through stop signs and red lights, straddling lanes and cutting through grocery store parking lots.

Deputies Damon Simmons, Scott Bonney and Jason Karntiz helped Hirzel in the pursuit.

DeBoer nearly struck several vehicles, deputies say. Hirzel ended the search because of public safety concerns; a Washington State Patrol trooper later located the suspects and they admitted to fleeing Hirzel.

“Singer admitted to Deputy Hirzel she told DeBoer to 'go, baby, go' when he attempted to stop them,” according to court documents.

The Honda was stolen early that morning or late the night before from a home in the 1300 bock of North McDonald Road.
  

2 cars crash on tracks in wild chase

A wild car chase on Sunday ended in a father and son's vehicles crashing off railroad tracks into trees and a suspected thief getting away, police said Tuesday.

Authorities are asking for tips on the car thief, who they say stole a car from a Spokane Valley home then ditched it near East 16th Avenue and South Dishman-Mica Road after being pursued by the owner and his father.

The father had moved his son's car about 4:30 a.m. because it was partially blocking his vehicle. He left the keys in the ignition, then went inside to wait for his car to start because of a problem with its alarm system, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

He looked out the window to see his son's vehicle being driven north on South Dishman Road. He and his son got in his car and gave chase north on Dishman to East 8th Avenue, where the car thief began driving south on railroad tracks and they followed.

The car thief and the father-son team lost control of the cars and drove into a group of trees just south of 16th, where the suspect ran north on Dishman and the victims lost sight of him.

He's described as a white man, about 6-feet-tall and wearing a blue shirt and black pants. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Repeat offender sentenced to 4+ years

A repeat offender has been sentenced to about four years in prison for drug and property crimes.

Christopher Bruce Gooch, 35, was given an exceptionally high sentence of 50 months in prison. He's in the Spokane County Jail awaiting transport to prison.

A jury convicted Gooch of two counts of eluding police last month. He then pleaded guilty to possession of a stolen motor vehicle, eluding police, unlawful possession of a payment instrument and possession of a controlled substance. He was sentenced May 31.

Gooch was arrested in February after a police chase while driving a stolen vehicle.

Police issued a news release today about his prison sentence that included information on a serial burglar sentenced last month to 108 months in prison. Read more about Donald Myhren here.

“These arrests and convictions are part of an extensive effort by Spokane Police to investigate property crimes and arrest the ROPs responsible for the majority of these crimes,” wrote Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, spokeswoman for the Spokane Police Department.

Myhren was actually arrested by Spokane police last summer, well before the department announced they would only be investigating about 5 percent of property crimes. He was out of jail awaiting trial - and committing more crimes - when the Spokane County Sheriff's Office connected him and his brother to a series of burglaries.

Spokane police helped with that arrest, DeRuwe said today, which occured one day after the City of Spokane and Spokane Police Department announced a renewed focus on property crimes.

Homeowner’s info links car theft, burglary

Sheriff's deputies linked a car theft Memorial Day weekend to a residential burglary in Spokane Valley because the victim homeowner wrote down the license plate of the thief's getaway car, officials said today.

A man who owns a home in the area of 4600 E. 2nd Ave. said he arrived home about 9 a.m. Friday and saw a man run from his fenced backyard and drive away in a Honda. The license plate the homeowner wrote down matched the plate of a 1988 Honda stolen from a driveway in the area of 4300 E. 2nd Ave. on May 27, according to the Spokane County Sherifff's Office.

Sheriff's deputy Ryan Smith was patrolling the area of Broadway Avenue near Progress Elementary School Saturday when he spotted the Honda in an undeveloped alleyway near the school. He watched the vehicle until Courtney Lee Baldwin, 38, got in the driver's seat, the sheriff's office said.

Smith detained Baldwin, and the Honda's owner arrived and confirmed he had no idea who Baldwin was. The burglary victim also arrived and said Baldwin was the man he'd seen run from his yard.

Baldwin, who did not speak to deputies, was booked into jail on charges of second-degree burglary, reckless driving (for the burglary getaway) and third-degree driving while suspected. He also faces additional charges of driving while suspended and obsession of a stolen motor vehicle.
  

Car theft suspect ‘kind of figured that’

A Spokane man told of his car's stolen status after a police chase Saturday replied that he “kind of figured that,” officers say.

Tyson G. Blimka 31, is accused of fleeing police in the area of Euclid Avenue and Lee Street in a black Ford Escort with Idaho plates Saturday about 3:20 p.m. Police tried to pull him over after learning the car had been reported stolen on Friday from the 800 block of West Cleveland and likely had switched license plates.

Police pursued Blimka until the engine of the car appeared to quit and the vehicle stopped in the middle of Carlisle.

Blimka told officers he got the vehicle from a man named Brian, police say. He said he knew police were trying to stop him but that the accelerator on the car stuck, according to court documents.

Blimka was booked into jail on charges of possession of a stolen motor vehicle and attempting to elude police.
  

Steele witness sentenced for car theft

A key defense witness for imprisoned murder-for-hire plotter Edgar Steele has been sentenced to prison in Washington for stealing cars.

Daryl J. Hollingsworth, 41, pleaded guilty this week to two counts of second-degree taking a motor vehicle without permission and was sentenced to 22 months in prison.

The charges stem from Hollingsworth stealing cars July 5, 2010 and June 22, 2009. Hollingsworth has at least 13 previous felony convictions, including for theft, forgery, second-degree kidnapping and second-degree robbery.

He was in the Bonner County Jail when he met Steele, who was awaiting trial on federal charges alleging he'd hired Sagle-area handyman Larry Fairfax to kill his wife, Cyndi Steele.

Hollingsworth testified at Steele's trial in Boise last year that he was asked by Fairfax to design the cover of his book to include a “picture of Larry Fairfax's logging truck running over an Aryan Nations member.”

Steele was a lawyer for the Aryan Nations in a 2000 lawsuit that bankrupted the racist group. Holllingsworth said he also was asked to include a picture of an FBI agent stabbing Fairfax in the back.

The testimony was aimed at discrediting Fairfax, but a jury convicted Steele on all charges in May 2011. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison in November and is being housed at a maximum-security prison in Victorville, Calif.

Fairfax is scheduled to be released from prison at the end of this month on weapons charges related to a pipe bomb he planted on Cyndi Steele's car.

Hollingsworth is in the Spokane County Jail awaiting transport to a state prison.

Related:

June 30: Oldtown chop shop has Spokane ties

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