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Drug bust uncovers suspected stolen goods

Wed., Dec. 17, 2008

A recent drug bust in Airway Heights led police to a house full of suspected stolen property, including a trailer reported stolen more than a decade ago.

It began when police arrested Mark J. Sarber, 49, on a warrant for possession of a controlled substance in a traffic stop Nov. 12.

Along with a quarter-ounce of methamphetamine, Airway Heights police spotted suspected stolen property at Sarber’s home at 614 S. Horton St. after he allowed them inside, according to a search warrant the Washington State Patrol used to raid the home last week.

But while a trailer reported stolen more than a decade ago and a motorcycle reported stolen in 2002 were returned to their owners last week, piles of property including expensive vacuum cleaners, golf clubs, Xbox 360s and flat-screen televisions may never be claimed, said Sgt. Dave Bolton, of the WSP’s stolen vehicle unit.

“People tend not to write down serial numbers,” he said. “We do have to have a victim before we charge someone with possession of stolen property.”

The case underscores the importance of tracking property with unique identifiers such as serial numbers, Bolton said.

“People need to mark their property or record serial numbers,” Bolton said. “It doesn’t have to be anything complicated.”

Though Sarber, 49, told police he owned the trailer and motorcycle, the theft reports filed by the original owners coupled with a VIN number and a serial number found on an engine part showed investigators the property was stolen, according to a search warrant.

Sarber left the Spokane County Jail after posting $50,000 bail a day after his Dec. 9 arrest, according to jail records. A judge released his wife, Brenda Sarber, 34, on her own recognizance the same day.

The two could face a slew of stolen property charges once the investigation is complete, Bolton said.

Sarber, who could not be reached for comment, a criminal history dating back to the late 1980s that includes more than 40 charges, according to court records.

Meghann M. Cuniff can be reached at (509) 459-5534 or by e-mail at

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