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Burglars smash stores with stolen vehicles

Wed., Dec. 16, 2009

String of similar crimes started in October

Police are trying to identify the driver of a Chevrolet pickup that smashed into 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 driver ran from the scene and was tracked to the area of Addison Street and Lyons Avenue. Police believe the driver fled that area in a stolen car.

The break-in occurred about 3:50 a.m. Tuesday at the Cricket store at 7132 N. Division St., about 10 minutes after police responded to an alarm at a Chevron gas station up the street at 9420 N. Newport Highway.

Police say a door to the gas station was pried open and a display case burglarized. The Chevrolet was seen on the store’s surveillance video, police said.

The break-ins comprise 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 anyone with information about the cases to come forward.

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