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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: stolen vehicles

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.

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.
  

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

Reward for tips on stolen for-sale cars

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead them to five vehicles stolen from Kootenai County car dealerships in the past two months.

A reward also is available for tips on the people who stole them.

According to Coeur d'Alene police Sgt. Christie Wood:

A 1999 white Jeep Wrangler sport 2-door with a black roof has been missing since March 16.

A 2001 blue Dodge Durango was stolen between April 14 and April 17.

A 1996 blue Chevrolet 1500 extended cab truck was stolen between April 28 and April 30.

A 2004 GMC Sierra 2500 crew cab, duramax, 4-door truck was stolen between April 28 and May 2.

Finally, a 1995 white Dodge Ram 3500, 2-door, flatbed truck was stolen between May 1 and May 2.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters do not have to give their names to receive a reward but should leave a code name or number.

Passed-out driver nets 6 felony charges

A report of a driver passed out in a running Honda with its trunk open and windows fogged up led to the arrest of a 28-year-old man on six felony charges early Saturday, police said today.

Randy Lee Jensen, Jr., could not tell if he was OK and if he knew where he was parked when deputies contacted him in the area of 6000 E. 9th Ave. about 4 a.m., according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

A homeowner called police to report the vehicle parked in his driveway. He said he didn't know who it belonged to but believed the driver was passed out.

Turns out the Honda had been reported stolen April 22, and Jensen had a warrant for driving on a suspended license.

Deputies found a clear plastic bag with Oxycodone in Jensen's right front jeans pocket. They also found several vehicle registrations, credit cards, driver's licenses, gift cards and military IDs that did not belong to Jensen, the sheriff's office said.

The items were stolen in several vehicle prowlings. Jensen had a shaved key in the ignition, along with a key chain with other shaved keys.

He was booked into jail on six felony identity and theft related charges, as well as the misdemeanor driving warrant. He remains there on $15,750 bond after appearing in court Monday. That includes $5,000 bond for an unrelated car theft case from January.

Felon leads police to guns, stolen car

Deputies in Spokane Valley found two suspected stolen firearms Tuesday while contacting a woman who was driving with a suspended license, officials said today.

Jill A. Benton, 27, told deputies she placed a backpack in the bed of a truck next to her vehicle in the area of 400 North University Road and that there were two guns inside, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Benton allowed deputies to search the backpack, and they recovered a KSI Pomona 9mm handgun and a 16-gauge Westpoint shotgun.

Benton allowed deputies to search her storage unit in Spokane Valley, “where there were several items that she said were more than likely stolen,” according to a news release.

Benton also told deputies she'd picked up a “felon” associate who had been driving a Honda, the sheriff's office said. She took deputies to the Honda, which was listed as stolen. Benton was booked into jail on two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm.

Police are asking property crime victims to review photos of the seized property from this case and from other investigations on the Sheriff's Office Facebook page.

“Citizens are required to call Crime Check with their original theft report number and must show proof of ownership for the items they recognize,” according to a news release.

Benton is prohibited from possessing firearms because of felony convictions, which include riot, conspiracy to possess a controlled substance and conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance related to a medical marijuana robbery in January 2011.

Boy arrested for DUI after police chase

A 17-year-old boy in a stolen van was arrested for drunken driving after running into a fast food restaurant, then disabling his front tires by running over a curb.

The boy also faces charges of attempting to elude police, possession of a stolen vehicle, hit and run, possession of marijuana and driving while license suspended after deputies were dispatched to a van driving recklessly Saturday about 7:30 a.m. in the area of East Bigelow Gulch Road and North Argonne Road, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Witnesses called 911 to report the van, and sheriff's Deputy Matt Spink caught up with near Highway 2 and Day-Mt. Spokane Road.

Spink followed the van and was told by dispatchers that it had just run into the Zip Trip nearby, according to the sheriff's office. He tried to stop the van, but it sped away before the boy drove it over a curb near Lane Park and Chesapeake Road, which disabled the front tires.

Spink arrested the boy. The owner of the van said he'd parked it in front of his home about 11 p.m. the night before and did not know the boy or that his van had been stolen.
  

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