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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: theft

Spokane woman sues Walmart, claiming she was profiled

A Spokane jury will hear the civil case filed against Walmart by a woman who claims she was profiled as a shoplifter and humiliated by a store employee in December 2011.

 

Beyonce Nieves sued the Arkansas-based retailer in Spokane County Superior Court, asking for damages resulting from assault, unlawful imprisonment and outrage for an incident that took place at the Shadle Park location on Dec. 9, 2011. Attorneys for Walmart claim their employee, a store loss prevention officer, acted reasonably when he confronted Nieves outside the store, alleging she’d secreted some stockings in a backpack and walked out without paying.

 

The confrontation led to Nieves allegedly disrobing in the parking lot in an attempt to prove her innocence, pulling up her shirt and pulling down her pants, according to court documents. The police were called and charges against her were later dropped when investigators could not prove she’d stolen anything.

 

The employee said in court filings he witnessed Nieves place the stockings in the pocket of her hooded sweatshirt. Attorneys for Walmart also want jurors to hear about a previous incident at a Fred Meyer store in which Nieves was captured on video “engaging in a crime of dishonesty” similar to the alleged Walmart shoplifting, according to court documents.

 

Nieves claims that she was singled out for surveillance because of her physical appearance. Security video will be played at trial, in which Nieves claims there is no evidence she took any items without paying.

 

Walmart has denied the allegations against itself and its employee through an attorney. The company claims Nieves was responsible for whatever consequences, physical or otherwise, resulted from the incident.

Would-be booze robber leaves store without liquor, freedom

A man accused of stealing a $13 bottle of vodka from a Spokane grocery store was arrested on suspicion of first-degree robbery after he allegedly punched a clerk and heaved the liquor bottle into the road.

Chad Burk, 40, was arrested late Friday after witnesses said he left a Safeway store on North Market Street without paying for his alcohol. A clerk watched Burk grab a bottle of vodka and a can of beer, walk to the frozen foods section and place the can of beer inside. Burk placed the vodka in his jacket and walked out without paying, according to the store clerk.

The clerk chased Burk out of the store, where Burk allegedly punched him twice and pushed him up against a wall. The employee wrestled Burk to the ground when police arrived.

At some point during the altercation, Burk threw the vodka into the street, according to court records.

Burk was released from custody without bond this weekend. He is expected to make a first-appearance on the charge against him Monday afternoon.

Jailed thief hides jewelry in Star Wars model, cellmate says

Thomas Clement decided not to hide diamond rings stolen from a Spokane jewelry store in a galaxy far, far away, according to a cellmate.

The convicted thief told a fellow inmate he secreted the spoils of a string of burglaries in the basement of his sister who lives on the South Hill. Among the hiding spots, according to court documents, was “a Star Wars model.”

Investigators also planned to search the sister's home for items stolen during break-ins at a rare coin shop and two video game retailers early in 2013, according to court documents. Those thefts occurred around the same time as the others that landed Clement in jail, according to investigators, and Clement confessed to the crimes to a fellow inmate while the two shared cells in both Spokane County Jail and Airway Heights Correctional Center.

The informant told police of the county jail confessions in November, hoping to receive a shorter sentence for a firearms charge that put him behind bars. Investigators then moved the two men, who were both being held at Airway Heights on separate charges, to the same cell in an effort to get Clement to say more about his alleged crimes. The timing of the thefts and the stolen items, included two Wii game systems and several rare coins, matched initial police reports of the incident, prompting the search of the South Hill home.

Investigators have not yet said what, if any, items were recovered at the house, including Wookies or padawans.

String of laundry machine robberies ends for Spokane Valley man

Authorities hope a recent arrest will convince a suspected frequent laundry room burglar to change his ways.

Jason Amyot, 32, is being held at the Geiger Corrections Facility near Spokane International Airport, facing 17 counts of second-degree burglary. Police say Amyot went on a “crime spree” in Spokane Valley from September through October, breaking into laundry facilities at apartment complexes and busting open the machines to steal the coins within.

The thefts ranged in value from $12 at a complex on South Whipple Road late in September to a relative heist at a commercial laundry facility on East Sprague Avenue on two days earlier in the month, in which Amyot is thought to have stolen more than $2,000. Surveillance footage from that scene led officers to suspect Amyot, who has a long criminal history during which he's established a pattern of stealing from laundry machines, according to investigators.

Amyot said he was responsible for all but one of the 18 incidents police have linked to him. On some occasions, Amyot broke locks to get into the private laundry facilities; in others, he pried open windows from the outside or used keys that were hidden nearby. In at least one of the incidents, Amyot stole from facilities where friends were living, according to court documents.

One attempt, at a complex on Argonne Road, proved unsuccessful because the landlord had removed the change the day before the break-in, according to investigators.

Amyot has been in police custody since mid-October. He is being held on multiple warrants.

Sheriff’s Office looking for Walmart flashlight thief

The Spokane County Sheriff's Office is hoping the public can shed some light on a man they say stole a flashlight from a Spokane Valley Walmart over the weekend.

The man was captured on surveillance video entering the store at 5025 E. Sprague Ave. around 4 p.m. Sunday. He is a white male, wearing jeans, a grey collarless shirt and a dark zip-up sweatshirt with a light beard and short cropped hair.

According to an undercover officer in the store, the man left the location without paying for a flashlight he was carrying. When confronted in the parking lot, the man brandished a knife and fled to a nearby vehicle.

Police ran the vehicle's plates, which were written down by the store officer. The car was reported stolen. It has been recovered by authorities, but police have no leads on a suspect.

If you have information about the incident, the Sheriff's Office is asking that you contact Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS or online at crimestoppersinlandnorthwest.org. A cash reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest in this case.

Pill theft plants 52-year-old Spokane man in jail

The alleged theft of a $2 bottle of ibuprofen could lead to weeks of legal headaches for a Spokane man.

Michael Ewing was arrested Saturday after an undercover officer at an East Central grocery store said he saw the 52-year-old sneak a bottle of off-brand painkillers into his pants pocket. The officer approached Ewing when he went to pay for other purchases, and several witnesses said when the officer informed Ewing he would be placed under arrest, he began swinging his fists wildly, striking the officer in the eye. Store employees and the officer eventually subdued Ewing by placing him in handcuffs, according to court documents.

Prosecutors initially sought a charge of first-degree robbery for Ewing, who has two prior felony convictions back in the late 1970s. But at a first appearance in Spokane County Superior Court on Monday, Judge James Triplet ruled prosecutors had only proven probable cause for lesser charges of assault and theft.

Ewing was released from custody without bail. He is due in court to address the charges later this month.

Woman banned from Walmart arrested at Walmart

Charnay Robinson may have taken one too many trips to the superstore.

Robinson, 27, was arrested Monday at the Walmart on East Sprague after police say she used a Visa credit card that had been reported stolen this weekend. Account records showed 13 charges totaling more than $750 on the card between Saturday and Monday, with seven of them occurring at the Walmart, mostly for prepaid debit cards that can be used anywhere. Cameras caught Robinson making those purchases Sunday.

According to court documents, Robinson was banned from Walmart stores nationwide in May. It was not clear in the records what caused that ban.

Police picked up Robinson after she returned to the Walmart on Monday. She was found at the customer service desk trying “to get help with a Walmart gift card that was not working,” according to court documents.

Robinson appeared in Spokane County Superior Court on Tuesday, facing seven charges of burglary and one theft charge. Her bail was set at $2,050. Police note in court records more charges are likely to be filed.

Deputies catch hungry Newport thief

Not only did a burglar steal away with a Newport homeowner’s truck early Thursday morning, he cooked a meal in the victim’s kitchen.

The homeowner woke up around 2:30 a.m. to investigate a noise downstairs when he saw the truck driving away with the burglar at the helm.

He realized the burglar broke in through the dog door, he told dispatchers.

Deputies found the stolen vehicle about 14 miles north of Newport on State Route 20 after noticing the driving operating the truck in an erratic manner, the news release said.

They pulled the driver over and identified him as James M. Ericksen, 30.

Deputies arrested Ericksen for vehicle theft, a DUI, driving with a suspended license and a failure to appear for an incident in another county.

Suspected Lincoln Heights commercial burglar caught

A man connected to thefts in the Lincoln Heights area has been arrested by Spokane Police officers for driving a stolen vehicle, according to a news release.

Police found Thomas M. Clement, 39, on Wednesday near Ralph and Riverside, driving a vehicle reportedly connected to two car theft cases on the Spokane Community College Campus earlier this month and a burglary, detectives said.

Clement allegedly entered campus locker rooms and used bolt cutters to steal car keys from lockers, the news release said.

Investigators also believe Clement is connected to a series of commercial burglaries on the South Hill area that targeted Radio Shack, Hastings, GameStop, Ace Hardware and more, in addition to two suspects arrested in February for similar crimes.

Curtis D. McKelvey, 29, and Chelsea A. Linerud, 24, were arrested when officers found a man smashing a Radio Shack window with a crowbar, earlier reports said.

Clement is charged with two counts of burglary, theft of a motor vehicle and first-degree trafficking of stolen property.

Man convicted for false insurance claim for $200,000

A man exaggerating the size of a damaged patio cover was convicted in Spokane County Superior Court today for filing a fraudulent insurance claim for nearly $200,000.

A real estate agent described the cover as “small and nothing special or significant,” according to the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner news release, but 48-year-old Keith R. Scribner painted a different story when he filed a claim for a roof damaged by the weight of snow in 2009.

Scribner filed the claim on behalf of Marilyn Warsinske, his mother, whose policy covered a replacement, the news release said.

Even the claims representative thought the bids were a joke, the news release said, and Scribner was unable to prove the size of the patio cover through photos.

Actual photos of the home found on a real estate website did not depict the capacity Scribner described, the news release said.

Investigators contacted the previous homeowners who described the patio originally as canvas, but they bought a polycarbonate cover for about $300. Additional interviews with builders speculated bids would range to about $4,800.

Scribner will be sentenced in court on April 16 for insurance fraud and attempted theft.

Minnesota fugitives arrested at Bead Lake cabin

A man wanted on theft charges in Minn. was caught over the weekend by Pend Oreille County authorities after he was found hiding in a cabin near Bead Lake with his girlfriend, according to a Pend Oreille County Sheriff’s news release.

Deputies learned last week Justin L. Feldt, 32, and Jessie A. Pechia, 26, were possibly on their way to Bead Lake, about ten miles north of Newport, Wash. Deputies found an abandoned vehicle that matched his vehicle’s description and began canvassing nearby summer homes.

They also learned a small row boat had been stolen nearby and they believed it was used to visit the other side of the lake only accessible by boat or an ATV, according to the news release.

Deputies borrowed an ATV from Idaho authorities and drove it to the lake cabin where they found Feldt and Pechia. They were arrested on Dec. 15 local burglary, firearm, theft, obstruction charges and the additional out-of-state warrants from Minnesota.

Feldt was originally sought by Minn. authorities for felony charges of check and mail theft and financial fraud. A warrant for his arrest was issued Nov. 21, according to the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office website.

Authorities seek info on vehicle theft suspect

Do you recognize this man?

Spokane Valley property crimes detectives are asking for the public's assistance in identifying a vehicle theft suspect. 

The theft occurred Nov. 20 near the 13100 block of East Indiana Avenue in Spokane Valley. 

Anyone that can assist detectives in identifying the suspect in the surveillance photos from Walmart on East Broadway in Spokane Valley is asked to contact Detective Darin Staley at 509-477-3363.

Police: Beware of panhandlers

Spokane police arrested a panhandler Thursday afternoon after discovering he had a stolen car.

A man left a vehicle parked near the Office Depot by Wellesley Avenue and Division Street and proceeded to the intersection with a cardboard sign to panhandle, according to a Spokane Police Department news release.

Officers discovered the car had been reported stolen from the South Hill area two days ago and arrested Alex D. Treadway, 30, as he returned to the vehicle after collecting money from a number of motorists.

Treadway was booked into Spokane County Jail for possession of a stolen vehicle. He is a convicted felon with numerous Spokane-area arrests, including felon in possession of a firearm, armed burglary, assault with a deadly weapon and theft, according to police.

“Consider carefully who you might be rolling your window for,” police Spokesman Sgt. Jason Hartman said in the news release.

“The Spokane Police Department wants to remind the public that a multitude of government and charitable services exist, especially downtown, to assist people with food, shelter and medical needs,” Hartman said. “Members of the department are aware of numerous instances where panhandled donations have not gone for the stated purpose.”

The Spokane City Council passed an ordinance in August banning panhandlers in certain areas from reaching into the street to take money from drivers.

The affected area is south of Boone Avenue, west of Hamilton Street, north of Seventh Avenue and east of the Maple-Ash corridor on major arterials, including state highway routes. It also includes interchanges along the entire Interstate 90 corridor inside the city of Spokane.

Car prowling surge reported in county

The Sheriff's Office is warning of a surge in vehicle prowling in the Greenacres area of east Spokane County.

Nearly 24 prowlings have been reported to Crime Check since Monday. They've occurred mostly between Barker Road and Harvard Road, and north of Sprague Avenue to the Spokane River.

Many victims left their car doors unlocked or their windows rolled down, according to a news release. Some of the cars also contained electronics, purses, wallets and other valuables in plain sight.

Most cars were prowled during the late evening.

The Sheriff's Office reminds people not to leave valuables in their cars and to report suspicious activity to Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Spokane Police Department launched a “remove it or lose it” campaign last month that aims to help citizens prevent car prowlings. Read more here.

Convicted conman pleads guilty to fraud

A conman who went to prison for duping people out of $124,000 for a fraudulent cattle farm investment is likely headed back here after pleading guilty to a similar scheme in North Idaho.

James Andrew Harris, 44, pleaded guilty to wire fraud Monday and faces up to 20 years in prison when he's sentenced Nov. 5.

Harris admitted to stealing about $108,000 from a Florida resident whom he'd solicited as an investor in the beef industry.

Harris told the victim he had a “connection” who helped restaurants, supermarkets and other purchasers of beef finance their purchases, according to a news release by the U.S. Attorney's Office. “Harris represented that there was a great deal of money to be made in financing the purchases and encouraged the individual to participate.”

Harris created the email account ibuybeef@yahoo.com to assist in the fraud, which occurred between July 2010 and June 2011.

The fraud began less than three months after Harris was released from federal prison after being sentenced to 27 months for the cattle investment fraud. Harris paid those investors with counterfeit checks, according to a plea agreement.
  

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.

Feds seek Ariz. property in Ridpath probe

Federal investigators are attempting to seize an Arizona property owned by Spokane real estate investors as part of a broader probe into alleged fraud by the couple, who are tangled in the complicated ownership of the former Ridpath Hotel complex.

FBI agent Lisa Jangaard filed a request last week to seize an office building in Sun Lakes, Ariz., a suburb of Phoenix. According to court files, Greg Jeffreys and his wife, Kimberly Jeffreys, obtained $600,000 from an investor as partial payment for the purchase of an upscale office building in San Francisco.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Victims sought in Valley burglaries

Spokane County Sheriff's detectives are looking for victims of unreported burglaries in the Spokane Valley area that may be connected to a trio of suspects arrested last week.

Victims of burglaries between June 21 and Aug. 1 are asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233, the sheriff's office said today.

Marina Florianovich, 24, Vyacheslav Znovets, 20, and Michael Mendez, 20, are accused of burglaries that occurred mostly in the area south of East Sprague Avenue. They drove a black 1997 BMW with blue rims in nearly every burglary, most of which occurred during the day.

Valley property crimes detectives arrested the suspects while searching homes in the 3500 block of South Woodward Road and the 100 block of North Walnut Road last Thursday.

Detectives located several thousands of dollars worth of jewelry stolen in the burglaries. Among the stolen items believed to be connected to the suspects is a Michael Jordan rookie card valued at $2,500, according to court documents.

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.

N. Idaho check theft suspects arrested

  A 28-year-old man and a 17-year-old runaway linked by police to check thefts in Coeur d'Alene are in custody.

Michael Graham Wilkins and Lacey Lynn Fugate were arrested at the Lake Drive Motel, 316 E. Coeur d'Alene Lake Drive, Friday about 6:30 p.m. after detectives received a tip that they were there, Coeur d'Alene police said today.

Police found property purchased with stolen credit cards and checks in the motel room, including a printer and package of blank checks purchased online.

Officers arrested Wilkins and Fugate on warrants out of Douglas County, Oregon, where Roseburg is.

They face new charges of grand theft and burglary in Kootenai County.

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