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With $17,000 from a stolen safe, Spokane Valley burglar bought cars, drugs and a motorcycle, authorities say

Spokane Valley authorities say a 43-year-old man broke into a storage unit, stole a safe containing $17,000 and used the money to buy heroin, two cars and a motorcycle.

Gordon D. Christenson also told deputies he gave a portion of the stolen cash to his girlfriend, who used it to buy clothing for her children, according to court documents.

Christenson was arrested Wednesday and faces a litany of charges including armed burglary, theft, drug possession, malicious mischief, money laundering and unlawful possession of a firearm.

According to court documents, a couple called authorities on Sept. 7 to report someone had broken into their locker at Veradale Self Storage, 16714 E. Sprague Ave. The burglar had cut through a fence, peeled back some metal siding and busted through a sheet of drywall to get inside.

The couple told deputies their safe contained $17,000 in cash, a .22-caliber pistol, a small stereo speaker, two porcelain dolls and a model train set.

Following up on a tip last week, Detective Jeff Thurman staked out Christenson’s apartment and spotted two cars without license plates: a blue 2000 BMW and a silver 2002 Volkswagen Passat.

On Wednesday, Thurman watched Christenson and his girlfriend get into the Passat before pulling them over on Sprague, along with other deputies.

Two small children also were in the car, and the girlfriend informed deputies they would find a safe containing methadone in the trunk, as well as scales and baggies of heroin in the apartment, according to court documents.

Christenson admitted to burglarizing the storage unit and said his girlfriend had nothing to do with it, according to court documents, which didn’t indicate if he knew what he would find in that specific unit.

Christenson said he bought the cars for $3,500 and a silver Harley Davidson for $5,000 and hid the bike at another storage facility on Sprague near Sullivan Road, according to court documents. He said he “knew he couldn’t have” the gun, so he threw it into the Spokane River from the Argonne Road bridge in Millwood.

Christenson has eight prior convictions for driving with a suspended license, one for driving without a license, one for driving while intoxicated, one for theft and two for drug possession, according to newspaper records. He was being held in the Spokane County Jail on Monday on a $35,000 bond.

The girlfriend had not been charged in connection with the burglary as of Monday evening.


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