When a north Spokane man awoke last weekend to the sound of his car alarm and found his window smashed, police traced fresh footprints leading from the crime scene to a neighbor’s home.
It was no surprise to the victim; he told police he’s known the man since the mid-1990s and suspects him of several other break-ins.
But the case is more than just an apparent feud between two neighbors. The alleged victim is a Spokane County Sheriff’s detective, the car an unmarked patrol cruiser.
And the suspect? The same guy arrested in an undercover sting last fall after investigators say he tried to sell a camera that had been stolen from the same detective’s car last year.
Now, Nick A. Peters, 26, is in jail and facing criminal charges in connection with the Saturday break-in of sheriff’s Detective Bryan Miller’s unmarked police car. And authorities are lamenting a case in which the suspect doesn’t appear to be learning any lessons.
“We’d like to be able to park our cars out front like anybody else,” said Sgt. John Nowels.
Peters was arrested Sept. 29 in Sandpoint, accused of trying to sell a Sheriff’s Office-issued Nikon D-200 camera to a woman who spotted the item posted on Craigslist. She grew suspicious of the seller and called police.
Authorities searched Peters’ Spokane Valley apartment the next week and found other equipment stolen from Miller’s car in May, including a tactical vest, digital scale and GPS equipment.
But he wasn’t charged in that case until Monday – nearly three months after detectives sent charging recommendations to prosecutors. Deputy Prosecutor Mary Ann Brady said the delay is linked to the loss of two deputy prosecutors to budget-cutting layoffs.
Peters appeared in Superior Court on Tuesday on one count of second-degree possession of stolen property stemming from his September arrest. He appeared Monday on malicious mischief and vehicle prowling charges that stem from his arrest on Saturday.
According to court documents, Peters’ latest arrest came after another neighbor of Miller’s spotted Peters rooting through the neighbor’s pickup about 3:45 a.m. Saturday.
Peters ran away, but police found muddy footprints leading to his home, according to court documents. When deputies questioned him, Peters was wearing clothing that matched the description of the suspect provided by Miller, documents allege.
Peters also had wet shoes that matched the muddy prints, detectives said.