February 19, 2005 in City

Woman faces charges in string of purse thefts

Thomas Clouse Staff writer

A woman suspected of lifting purses from church services and day-care centers could soon be facing 22 felony charges.

Spokane Valley Police detectives Roger Knight and Mark Renz have been working months to develop a case against 42-year-old Kathleen D. Stockton, of 3205 S. University Road, after several victims reported stolen purses from area churches and day cares.

“She would go into a church or a day care and if she was confronted, she had a story,” Knight said of Stockton. “They would either take her on a tour or let her go on her own, and she would take that opportunity to take purses. She’s a very interesting lady. We are very glad to be done” with the case.

Almost immediately after the thefts, checks would turn up written on the victims’ accounts. At least twice, Stockton was recorded on a store’s video camera cashing stolen checks while using stolen identification, police spokesman Cpl. Dave Reagan said.

As a result of the investigation that began in October, Renz and Knight are asking Spokane County prosecutors to charge Stockton with four counts of second-degree burglary; three counts of second-degree identity theft; six counts of second-degree theft; two counts of unlawful possession of a payment instrument; five counts of forgery; and two counts of second-degree possession of stolen property, Reagan said.

The break in the case came Dec. 14 when a Coeur d’Alene Police detective came to Spokane Valley to interview Stockton. He requested assistance from Spokane Valley Police, and Officer Eric Werner arrived, Reagan said.

During the questioning, Stockton fought with Werner, and she was placed into custody. A search of her purse revealed numerous stolen credit cards and pieces of identification, Knight said.

“They called us over, and we recognized the identifications in her purse as victims from some of our burglaries,” Knight said.

In an interview with police, Stockton admitted to at least six church burglaries, Reagan said.

Since that date, Renz and Wright have been tracking down the forged checks, bank statements and victims to develop a basis for the 22 possible felony charges.

Spokane County Sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Barbieri assisted in some of the latter portions of the case. He said developing forgery cases takes a lot of time.

“Even if she confesses, we have to have the evidence to prove the case,” Barbieri said. “It’s a long process, but it’s worth it. We’ve worked cases where in three months a suspect can easily do 100 felonies or 100 forgeries in that time.”

Barbieri praised the work of Knight and Renz in building the case against Stockton, who indicated she was working in association with other suspects.

“She said there was a group of them, and she was a runner. If she cashed checks, she got half the money or took her payment in drugs,” Knight said. “She didn’t name names.”

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