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Citizens on crime fighting spree

Mon., July 21, 2008, midnight

Residents lead way in three incidents

Spokane neighbors and would-be victims fought back against crime this weekend by helping police capture six criminal suspects.

A couple snapped a picture of two suspected burglars leaving their neighbor’s home. Despite being threatened with a gun, an East Spokane man chased three juveniles believed responsible for potentially 20 car break-ins. An off-duty firefighter wrestled an armed man to the ground and held him until police arrived.

“Police work is a partnership between us and the citizens. We couldn’t do our work without them,” Spokane Police Cpl. Jon Strickland said.

The spate of citizen justice started late Saturday, and continued Sunday as broad daylight proved no deterrent for a couple of burglars in north Spokane.

“We’ve all been robbed, and none of us like it,” said Carole Owen, who spotted a man and woman going into a neighbor’s garage on Sunday afternoon. Her neighbor is an elderly woman who rarely has visitors, so she and her husband Mike Owen decided to take action.

“I was pretty sure they weren’t supposed to be there, and I said, ‘Mike, this isn’t right.’ ”

While she dialed 911, her husband grabbed a camera and was able to capture an image of the twosome as they left the house. The Owens gave the photo to police. Within an hour, authorities arrested 34-year-old Andrea Hartnett and seized a suspected getaway car, police said. The man was still at large.

Earlier Sunday, an east Spokane man confronted three boys who were breaking into cars in front of his house near Cleveland and Rebecca. One boy pointed a handgun at him then all three juveniles fled on foot.

The man followed, while his wife called police.

With his and other neighbors’ help, police found the three boys. They were arrested and booked into Spokane County Juvenile Detention Center.

Late Saturday, an “obviously intoxicated” 19-year-old picked the wrong neighborhood to harass.

Greg Borg, a Spokane firefighter, heard “some ruckus and some yelling” outside his Shadle Park home.

A neighbor was telling the teenager to “go home and leave them alone” after the kid kicked at his barking dogs, Borg said.

“The kid then took out a knife and tried to stab my neighbor, but the chain-link fence prevented him from getting close enough,” Borg said. “I walked up behind him and yelled for him to put the knife down, and told him he was going to jail.

“He got about 4 feet from me with the knife. He puts the knife in his pocket, and says ‘I can take you, I’m a boxer,’ ” Borg said. He swung at Borg and missed, which allowed the firefighter to put a hold on him, and use a wrestling move to flip the suspect onto the ground.

Borg, 57, said he wrestled at Shadle Park High School.

Kyle P. Rapp was arrested on two assault charges, Strickland said.

While authorities were grateful for residents’ help, they also want to remind people that it’s not always wise to confront criminals.

“We certainly appreciate the help and these situations turned out well, but we don’t want these situations to end in a death,” Strickland said. “If someone confronts you with a knife, back off and call 911. If you are going to follow them, follow them safely. If they are on foot, follow them in a car.”

Contact Jody Lawrence- Turner at (509) 459-5593 or jodyl@spokesman.com


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