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Three held in break-in and looting of stores

Three people were arrested Wednesday in connection with a series of smash-and-grab burglaries at businesses in Spokane Valley.

Those involved may also be responsible for at least five similar burglaries in the city of Spokane, Spokane Valley Police said.

Arrested Wednesday were Michael Yamaguchi, 29, Stephen Victor, 19, and Samantha Winne, 19.

Detectives believe the trio burglarized two Shell stations and a Taco Bell in Spokane Valley on the morning of Feb. 1, stealing safes, cash registers, cigarettes and other items.

“They were in and out in three or four minutes,” said Spokane Valley Police Detective Dale Toliver.

On Wednesday night detectives executed search warrants at two apartments at a complex at 1813 N. Hutchinson Road.

Authorities were led to the apartments after finding an abandoned vehicle believed to be used in the burglaries.

“It was a stolen car that they test-drove the night before” from an East Sprague car lot, and during the test drive they made a duplicate key, Toliver said. An employee at the car lot recognized an address for Victor, which led police to the Hutchinson Road complex where all three suspects live.

At the apartments detectives recovered stolen cigarettes, money, drugs and other property, Toliver said. They have not yet found the store safes stolen in the three Feb. 1 burglaries.

Police said Yamaguchi has been arrested for similar crimes in the past, and when the investigation began in the recent crime spree “his name came up,” Toliver said. Records show he was convicted of two counts of second-degree burglary in 2006.

Yamaguchi and Victor were booked into Spokane County Jail on three counts of second-degree burglary for the Feb. 1 crimes and one count of theft of a motor vehicle. Winne was booked on one count of theft of a motor vehicle.

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