Break-ins and thefts of vehicles parked in lots throughout the city are on the rise, according to Spokane Police Crime Analysis experts.
Last month, there were 76 separate incidents of what police call “vehicle prowling,” which includes actual thefts and entry into vehicles where no theft occurs.
The list of prowling/thefts involves the entire city, but Hillyard, Shiloh Hills, central downtown and North Hill are the neighborhood leaders.
Many of the break-ins occur on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Only about half the break-ins occurred during the week.
Apartment lots are vulnerable because of unlighted or poorly lighted parking. Shopping areas and malls are also high on the list, partly because there are so many cars and so many people attending to their own interests.
“Most of us don’t notice someone who appears to be getting into a car or van,” said Jack Pearson of the Crime Analysis Unit.
“Unless there’s something unusual about them, we don’t really see them,” he said. “And most experienced car prowlers can be into a vehicle as fast as an owner with a key.”
Pearson said movie theaters are a favorite because thieves know someone going into a movie will be there for at least two hours.
“If they watch you leave the car and head into a theater, they have more than enough time to open your vehicle and pull the stereo or search through the glove box.”
This allows thieves adequate time to use credit cards and write stolen checks.
“A busy thief can write thousands of dollars worth of forgeries in two hours before either the victim or the businesses even know they’re worthless,” he said.
Pearson warns drivers and passengers to never leave anything of any value visible from outside the vehicle.
“Some people even leave their wallet, purse or check book in plain view,” he said. “It doesn’t take much to smash a window and grab something left on the seat or floor.”
Always take valuables with you, leave them at home or lock them in the trunk, he said.
Don’t leave home without it?
A sheriff’s deputy who was low on gas ended up arresting two Spokane men on March 12 after he noticed them having trouble getting their stolen credit cards to work.
The deputy pulled into the Pacific Pride station on East Hawthorne Road about 9:15 p.m. and saw the two appearing to have trouble, according to sheriff’s spokesman Dave Reagan.
When the suspects saw the deputy, they got into their pickup and left without fueling. Suspicious, the deputy followed and stopped them at the NorthPointe Shopping Center parking lot.
The deputy stopped them after the driver “committed several infractions,” Reagan said.
The deputy identified the driver as John R. Shumate, 33, of 705 N. Palmer Road. As he was talking to him, the deputy saw the passenger slide something down the stake pockets of the pickup’s bed, Reagan said.
The deputy arrested Shumate after learning his driver’s license was suspended. During the search of his clothes and pickup, the deputy found checks and credit cards in other people’s names.
Also arrested was Richard M. Mehaffey, 33, of 4228 E. 20th. The two men were arrested for second-degree possession of stolen property.
Man booked for drug possession
A Spokane man spilled the beans after he was pulled over for expired license tabs.
Police stopped Aaron K. Impecoven, 22, just after 7 p.m. on March 3 at Wellesley and Monroe.
Impecoven, 22, then told the officer he was driving with a suspended license and had a marijuana pipe with him.
A vehicle search revealed 17 baggies of marijuana, a digital scale with a cord, a box of smaller baggies, a cellular phone, pager and a brass pipe with marijuana residue, according to police spokesman Dick Cottam.
Impecoven, who gave his address as 4906 N. Windsor Dr., was booked into jail on possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.
Routine stop turns to foot pursuit
A routine traffic stop turned into a foot chase in northeast Spokane before 8 a.m. on March 11.
A Spokane police officer attempted to make a routine traffic stop of a vehicle at Wellesley and Freya. The officer said as she approached the car the driver took off, Cottam said.
The suspect stopped his vehicle at Rebecca and Liberty and ran near Minnehaha Park and the chase became a foot pursuit.
Lonnie A. Kohrdt, 26, was wanted on a felony warrant. He was booked into jail on the warrant and for attempting to elude, also a felony.
A robber grabbed a woman’s purse at Rosauers at 7414 N. Division as she shopped with her husband on the night of March 10.
The couple had moved a few feet from their shopping cart which held the woman’s purse. When the husband looked back he noticed the purse was gone and he saw a woman running from the store, according to Cottam.
He saw the robber get into the driver’s seat of an older maroon, two-door Buick. A man and small child were also in the car, the woman told police.
The man attempted to grab his wife’s purse through an open window, but the woman and man hit him and knocked him to the pavement, then drove away.
The woman was white, in her 20s, about 5-feet-5-inches tall, 120 pounds with long, curly dark hair.
Anyone with information about the suspects is asked to call Crime Check, 456-2233.