March 1, 2011 in City

In brief: Police say theft ring targets vacant homes for sale


Real estate agents are being targeted in a theft ring that preys upon vacant, for-sale homes.

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that help solve 23 burglaries in Spokane Valley in which kitchen appliances were stolen from vacant homes.

Police say the thief first steals the real estate agent’s lock box from the front door of the vacant homes that contains the key, then returns with a truck to steal ovens, stoves and refrigerators.

Anyone with information on the burglaries is asked to call (800) 222-TIPS or submit tips online at www.crimestoppersinland

Meghann M. Cuniff

Premera eyes changes to rate information bill

Premera Blue Cross is “stonewalling” a bill that would require disclosure of information supporting health insurance rate-hike applications, Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said Monday in a letter to consumers.

Washington’s other two major medical health insurance carriers are willing to make the information available before he acts on a rate application, Kreidler said. Premera has balked, but would allow disclosure after the insurance commissioner’s office takes action.

“Under this bill, you would see what we see, including how much of your premium is spent on medical costs, how much goes to administrative costs, and how much goes to profit,” Kreidler said.

Premera spokesman Erik Earling said the company is “perplexed” by the letter, given its ongoing efforts to work with the Legislature on the bill, House Bill 1220. He said Premera wants release of the rate information delayed because what an insurance carrier applies for is not necessary what is approved after review by Kreidler.

Bert Caldwell

Grill owner dies after snowmobile crash

A 41-year-old woman from Newman Lake died Monday of injuries suffered when her snowmobile hit a tree in northwestern Montana over the weekend.

Ronda Jo Emerson, co-owner of Otis Grill in Otis Orchards, was snowmobiling in the Spread Creek drainage on Sunday afternoon when her snowmobile struck a tree at about 1:30 p.m., said Lincoln County, Mont., Sheriff Roby Bowe. She was stuck between the snowmobile and the tree.

The Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call shortly before 4 p.m. Emerson was treated at the scene by search and rescue responders and taken by ambulance to St. John’s Hospital in Libby, where she was pronounced dead early Monday.

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