A trend that began this fall with brazen thieves using stolen vehicles to bash through locked doors and storefronts in search of cash machines appears to have reemerged.
Police are trying to identify the driver of a Chevy pickup that smashed through a cell phone store on North Division Street early Tuesday, then hooked a steel cable to an ATM through the broken store window.
The ATM was partially removed before the culprit ran from the scene and was tracked to the area of Addison and Lyons. Police believe the driver then fled that area in a stolen car.
The break-in about 3:50 a.m. Tuesday at the Cricket store at 7132 N. Division St., was about 10 minutes after police responded to an alarm at a Chevron gas station up the street at 9420 N. Newport Hwy.
Police say a door to the gas station was pried open and a display case burglarized. The Chevy was seen on the store’s surveillance video, police said.
The break-ins are the third case in a week in which burglars have used vehicles to smash through businesses and one of dozens of similar cases in Spokane County that began in October.
Police arrested a man in November as a suspect in an unsuccessful smash-and-grab burglary Oct. 21 at the Conoco at 3125 E. Mission Ave.
George W. Butrick, 31, was charged in that case and has been in police custody since early this month, according to jail records.
Three similar burglaries occurred this weekend at storage centers in Spokane Valley. Four gas stations were also targeted through smash-and-grab burglaries Friday morning.
“It seems to be becoming very popular to steal vehicles and drive them through buildings,” said Spokane County sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Reagan.
Police don’t know if the burglaries are connected and are asking tips.
Call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS or submit tips at www.crimestoppersinlandnorthwest.org.