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Home-invasion robber gets 10 years

A robber who fled a north Spokane home after being struck with a sword has been sentenced to nearly 11 years in prison.

Nathan T. McDaniels, 28, alias Gardner, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit first-degree burglary and two counts of first-degree robbery and was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Greg Sypolt to 129 months, according to court records.

McDaniels was arrested in May for a robbery  in the 9600 block of North Alpine Court, as was Nathan W. Day, 21.

Joshua Clint Epperson, 32, a level 3 sex offender, was arrested later in May. Erik J. Zacher, 26, was arrested in July.

The men are accused of entering the home about 2:45 a.m. on May 2, binding residents with zip ties and pistol whipping. The attackers asked about a safe and stolen several items. Police found a stolen Wii console and baggies of methamphetamine when they arrested Day at a home in the 900 block of East Wabash Avenue. They say he had a stolen handgun with him that may have been used in the robberies.

One resident told police four men knocked on the door and he let McDaniels in to use the bathroom. One of the men asked him if he wanted to smoke meth, and the man said he walked the men downstairs to wake up his girlfriend. That's when Day displayed the gun and the man was bound with zip ties as others stole items from the home, court documents say.

Court overturns Idaho man’s convictions

BOISE - A Kootenai County man has been cleared of three felony charges, after the Idaho Court of Appeals ruled a jury didn’t have sufficient evidence to conclude he had a gun when he angrily confronted friends of his ex-girlfriend in 2010 after vandalizing their home.

David Loren Curry was convicted of burglary, aggravated assault and unlawful possession of a firearm, with a sentence enhancement added for being a persistent violator; the burglary charge was based on the argument that he entered a garage with the intent of threatening the occupants with a deadly weapon.

Read the rest of Betsy Z. Russell's story here.

Exercising man loses BMW, gun, wallet

A car was recovered minutes after it was stolenin north Spokane recently when the alleged thief’s friend turned him in.

The 73-year-old owner, Robert B. Renz, parked his 2006 BMW at 8121 N. Division St. before exercising at the North Park Athletic Club on Friday.

Renz secured his wallet and keys in a locker, but someone opened the locker and stole them, then stole his BMW with a loaded Smith and Wesson .357 revolver inside, according to court documents.

Before he saw his car was missing, Renz was informed by the front desk that a man called and said he knew where the stolen BMW was.

That man told police his friend Matthew J. Gillette, 23, called him looking to sell a gray 2006 BMW. The man said he knew Gillette stole the car from the athletic club, so he called club employees and returned it to Renz.

But the gun and Renz’s wallet containing $400 still were missing. Soon, a person described in court documents as someone “who has been given special police considerations” told police Gillette was at the McDonald’s parking lot on North Division, near the athletic club.

Police arrested him there, and he told them the gun was in his room at the Howard Johnson Inn. He said he dumped the wallet, which included Renz’s military identification, in a Dumpster behind Jack in the Box and spent the cash on Oxycodone “to keep him from getting sick,” according to court documents.

Police retrieved the gun and booked Gillette into jail on charges of theft of a motor vehicle, theft of a firearm, second-degree theft, trafficking in stolen property and unlawful possession of a firearm.

Gillette has felony drug and forgery convictions that prohibit him from possessing firearms. He was jailed on $20,000 for the new charges and $20,000 warrant for theft and stolen property charges filed July 10.

Thief strikes children’s music nonprofit

Someone stole about $5,000 in equipment from a downtown cafe and concert house last weekend.

A thief or thieves climbed in an open but barred window in the back courtyard the Village Cafe and Concert House., 171 S. Washington St., and stole recording equipment, guitars, appliances, an air conditioner and power tools, said owner Doug LaPlante.

LaPlante is remodeling the building with a couple of friends and said the bars on the window were so narrow he didn't think anyone could fit through. Apparently he was wrong, and the window has since been boarded up.

“In the last 30 years I don't ever remember it being broken into,” LaPlante said. He recalled playing there in the 1990s. He's leased the space for about a year. It serves as a fundraising spot for LaPlante's nonprofit, the Village Experience, which provides free music lessons, instruments, and recording access to children.

A fundraiser is planned for Aug. 31 at Ugly Bettie's, 211 N. Division St.

Anyone with information on the burglary is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Who is this Coeur d’Alene car prowler?

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Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that help identify a man caught on tape trying to break into vehicles at a Coeur d'Alene car lot.

Surveillance video shows the man trying to enter locked vehicles at Midtown Motors, 1008 N. 4th St., July 14 about 4:50 a.m.

Anyone with information on the man's identity is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters do not have to give their name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.

Assault rifle stolen from murder victim’s apartment

Family members of a man killed in Western Washington two weeks ago found his newly purchased assault rifle missing from his Liberty Lake apartment when they arrived to pack up his belongings. Ryan Crews Mumm, 20, was reportedly attending Spokane Community College. Police are investigating the burglary. Reporter Meghann Cuniff has more details on her blog here.

Murdered man’s apartment burglarized

The family of a Western Washington man shot and killed nearly two weeks ago went to his Liberty Lake apartment to collect his things, only to find it burglarized and his newly purchased assault rifle missing.

Ryan Crews Mumm, 20, had been living in the area attending Spokane Community College, according to news reports.

He was shot and killed July 14 at Blue Stilly Park in Arlington in what police described as a dispute over $20 of marijuana. Suspect Dennis R. Watters, 41, of Tulalip, is in jail.

Mumm grew up in Arlington, and his family lives there. His sister, Jessica Olson, traveled to Liberty Lake to remove his items from the apartment at 22809 E. Country Vista Dr. and found it burglarized. An open rifle case sat on the living room floor. Olson said Mumm had bought a firearm at Cabela’s a couple months ago.

Liberty Lake police Detective Ray Bourgeois obtained a search warrant for Cabela’s firearm records that indicated the gun was a Romarm AK-47 assault rifle purchased by Mumm on Feb. 12. He entered the gun as stolen.

Boy home alone meets ‘prolific burglar’

Spokane police arrest burglary suspect Jay M. Shippy, 23, on Monday. (SPDphoto)

A 13-year-old boy home alone came face to face with a man police describe as a “prolific burglar” after the thief smashed in a basement window Monday, authorities allege.

The boy was at his home in the 400 block of West Carlisle Avenue while his mother was at work when he heard a knock on his door about 12:35 p.m. He looked out the window and saw a man identified by police as Jay Michael Shippy, 23, walking away.

Shippy already is charged in Spokane County Superior Court for a string of burglaries, including one in January at the home of prominent lawyer Carl Oreskovich. He was out of jail awaiting trial when he was arrested Monday.

The boy heard another knock a few minutes later, then heard a window being broken. He heard the basement door knob turning and yelled “hello” before running out the front door to his neighbor's home to call police.

The boy saw the burglar running from behind the home, and they met in the driveway before the boy ran to the neighbor's and the man ran eastbound, according to court documents.

Officer Nate Spiering chased Shippy in his motorcycle before arresting him a few blocks from the Carlisle home. Shippy had a backpack with jewelry inside as well as gardening gloves.

Shippy already is awaiting trial on 23 felony charges related to an alleged burglary spree with Randle “Kyle” Phelps, 29, and Jessica L. Davis, 25.

Shippy is accused with Davis of burglarizng Oreskovich's home on Jan. 19. The longtime lawyer told police he arrived home about 5:30 p.m. and saw an unknown man and woman standing in his home, according to court documents. One ran out the front door and the other the back. Oreskovich reported missing $300 in coins, a laptop and gold jewelry. He told police he'd left his door unlocked, according to court documents.

After Shippy was arrested in April, he directed deputies to Oreskovich's home while giving a tour of places he'd burglarized. Shippy was released shortly after his arrest because charges weren't immediately filed.

Shippy pleaded not guilty to the charges in June after being summonsed to court and was allowed to stay out of jail on his own recognizance. Now he's back behind bars.

Woman awakes to stranger in home

A man was arrested after a woman awoke to find him in her home early today.

Jeffrey A. Danielson, 21, told the woman's son “What do you mean? I'm not trying to start anything here” after the man confronted him about 2:30 a.m. at a home in the 1000 block of North Progress Road, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

The man's mother awoke o a noise at her front door. When she got out of bed to get a drink of water, she saw a man later identified as Danielson standing inside by the front door.  The 88-year-old woman screamed for her son, who then confronted Danielson. Danielson left and walked to a neighbor's front yard, the sheriff's office said.

Deputies Nathan Bohanek and Cpl. Brad Gilbert found him there and arrested him after Bohanek spoke to the victims.

Due to Danielson's high level of intoxication Deputy Bohanek chose not to ask him any questions about the incident,” according to a news release by Deputy Craig Chamberlin, sheriff's spokesman.

Danielson was booked into jail for residential burglary an no-bail DUI warrant.

Burglaries Prompt Sanders Watch

In one burglary, a Coeur d'Alene resident returned home to be greeted by a stranger coming out her back door. She turned and ran. In another, the victim was convinced a burglar was inside her home when she arrived with her grandchildren. She locked herself and the kids in a car until the home was searched. Burglaries are on the rise in the Lake City, and burglars are becoming as brazen as ever, even trying to break in when someone is home. Victims of one burglary in a Sanders Beach home are fighting back by forming a Block Watch program, and will hold a meeting this week. It will make a difference, said Coeur d'Alene Police Sgt. Christie Wood. “Neighborhood Watch is a proven deterrent to crime,” she said. “When neighbors are organized and aware of who their neighbors are, and who belongs in the neighborhood, they are much more likely to call the police when they see suspicious activity”/Bill Buley, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: Are you part of a Neighborhood Block Watch?

Suspect arrested in May home robbery

A fourth suspect has been arrested in a home-invasion robbery in the Indian Trail area that ended with a resident confronting his attackers with a sword.

Erik J. Zacher, 26, is accused of robbing residents in the 9600 block of North Alpine Court in May.

Suspects Nathan W. Day, 21, and Nathan T. McDaniels, 28, were arrested a day after the robbery. McDaniels still is there; Day is out on $25,000 bond.  Joshua Clint Epperson, 32, a level 3 sex offender, was arrested later in May and remains in jail.

The men are accused of entering the home about 2:45 a.m. on May 2, binding residents with zip ties and pistol whipping. The attackers asked about a safe and stolen several items. Police found a stolen Wii console and baggies of methamphetamine when they arrested Day at a home in the 900 block of East Wabash Avenue. They say he had a stolen handgun with him that may have been used in the robberies.

One resident told police four men knocked on the door and he let McDaniels in to use the bathroom. One of the men asked him if he wanted to smoke meth, and the man said he walked the men downstairs to wake up his girlfriend. That's when Day displayed the gun and the man was bound with zip ties as others stole items from the home, court documents say.

Zacher is charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree burglary, two counts of first-degree robbery, second-degree assault and three counts of first-degree kidnapping. He was arrested Saturday.

Ex-NFL player hopes for return of rings

Police recovered this 1985 Super Bowl ring belonging to to Stefan Humphries after it was stolen in a burglary in June. Other memorabilia still is missing. (SPDphoto)

A former pro football player whose championship rings were stolen when his home was ransacked in Spokane says he’s hopeful he’ll see the memorabilia again.

“But we’ll see,” said Stefan Humphries, former director of St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute. “It’s like a nightmare.”

Humphries, who played on the 1985 Chicago Bears Super Bowl championship team, said he’s devastated by the loss but won’t let it sour his outlook on Spokane, where he lived for seven years before accepting a job in Nevada last month.

Read the rest of my story here.

Rose Bowl ring stolen in Spokane found

A Rose Bowl championship ring belonging to former Spokane doctor and ex-pro football player Stefan Humphries was among items recovered during a recent police investigation into a series of burglaries in the Spokane area.

But police still are looking for a Denver Broncos AFC Championship ring and a gold and diamond 1985 Chicago Bears Super Bowl pendant belonging to Humphries, the former medical director at St. Luke's Rehabilitation Institute now working in Nevada. (Humphries was the drummer in the team's Super Bowl Shuffle video.)

Members of the Spokane Police Department's targeted crimes unit located the ring and other stolen property in a hotel room in Post Falls, Idaho, after arresting repeat offender Jonathan R. Andersen, 24, on June 21. Anderson was driving a vehicle stolen from Dishman Dodge on East Sprague Avenue that contained thousands of dollars worth of stolen gold, silver and diamond jewelry.

Then on July 3, Joseph Whipple, 24, (pictured) Solomon Monkiewicz, 20, and a juvenile were arrested for a burglary in the 2300 block of West Rainer Court. Police linked the three to a home in the 1800 block of East Decatur and found tens of thousands of dollars in stolen property there.

High-end watches and firearms remain missing, along with the NFL ring and pendant.

Whipple, Monkiewicz, Andersen, Milo Laulaulo, 25, and Kelsi Bendewald, 22, faces a slew of felony charges for the burglaries, including property and gun charges. Bendewald and Laulaulo were with Anderson when he was arrested last month.

2 arrested in Spokane Valley burglary

Two men were arrested on suspicion of burglary Monday after a Spokane Valley man and his daughter arrived home in the middle of the day to find a possibly armed burglar walking from their backyard.

Nathanial Brooks Hubbard, 20, and Robert E. Best, IV, 25, are accused of ransacking a bedroom in the home in the 3500 block of South McDonald Road and stealing a gun and several 50 cent and $1 coins.

The homeowner said he'd left about 10:45 a.m. and returned about 2 p.m. to find his back slider door partially open then saw a man later identified as Hubbard outside.

A sheriff's deputy responded and located the suspect vehicle near East 40th Avenue and South Woodlawn Drive, east of the Painted Hills Golf Course. The deputy and Valley police corporal stopped the car and identified the driver as Best and Hubbard the passenger. Sheriff's K-9 Ekko searched the car for others passenger; Ekko's handler found the stolen handgun under the front seat.

Hubbard and Best had the stolen coins in their pockets. They were booked into jail for first-degree burglary.

Burglar shoots at elderly woman’s home

A Spokane burglary suspect believed to have fired several rounds into an elderly woman's front door was arrested after a sheriff's corporal shot him with bean bags in front of another would-be victim's home early Saturday.

Ernest Earl Strebeck, 46, was armed with a handgun when members of the sheriff’s SWAT team confronted him as he sat on a porch of another home at 6536 N. Freya St.

Strebeck refused commands to lower the gun and instead stood up and stepped down from the porch, then tossed the firearm back onto the porch and walked away with his hands in his pockets. Cpl. Jeff Shover used a shotgun to fire three bean bags at Strebeck to subdue him enough to be handcuffed. He was transported to a hospital before being booked into jail.

Read the rest of my story here.

Man arrested in stolen lawnmower caper

A man wanted for violating his Department of Corrections probation was arrested after escaping a garage burglary in Greenacres on a stolen lawnmower, police say.

Robert G. Morey, 22, is accused of stealing firearms and valuable coins from a home in the 5500 block of South Conklin Road before riding away on the Craftsman riding lawnmower.

The homeowners called police Thursday evening and said they'd returned from the lake for the holiday to find their home burglarized.

Earlier, about 9 a.m., Spokane County sheriff's deputies had responded to a report of a man armed with a rifle or shotgun riding a lawnmower in the area of Linke and White roads.

Deputies found the lawnmower about seven miles away in the 19200 block of East Belmont Road. Then about 1:30 p.m., deputies heard reports of a suspicious person walking in the area where the lawnmower was recovered.

Deputies located Morey sitting on an embankment and confirmed he had a DOC escape warrant.

Morey was arrested and told deputies his girlfriend had dropped him off on “some road” after an argument, so he saw an open garage door and took the lawnmower as well as the guns and coins, according to the sheriff's office. Morey showed deputies where he'd ditched the guns.

The burglary was reported later that night, and deputies realized the stolen items matched what Morey told them he'd stolen. He was interviewed again at the jail and admitted to stealing a shotgun, rifle and pistol though he said he dropped the pistol when he stolen the lawnmower because he could' carry everything.

“Morey told deputies he took the guns because he was prohibited from having firearms and wanted one,” according to a news release by sheriff's spokesman Deputy Craig Chamberlin.

Morey said he abandoned the lawnmower when it ran out of gas.

He was booked into jail on charges of unlawful possession of a firearm, first-degree burglary, theft of a firearm and second-degree theft.

Morey is on probation after pleading guilty to obtaining a controlled substance by forged prescription and second-degree burglary last year.

51-time felon accused in car prowlings

A 51-time felon who was told by a judge 10 years ago that “the system's had enough of you” is back in jail for property crimes police suspect are related to his severe heroin addiction.

 Brian Lee Danner, 40, was stopped last week in the area of North Cedar Street and Northwest Boulevard while driving a green 1995 Jeep Cherokee belonging to another longtime felon, Johnie Leo Vick, Jr., 42.

Spokane police Officers Nick Geren and Brian Eckersley, along with Sgt. Joe Peterson, were looking for the Jeep after learning of vehicle prowlings in Spokane involving it and a 1984 Chevy Blazer also registered to Vick.

Vick was arrested the same day as Danner, June 26, when police located him working on the Blazer at Auto Zone, 2526 N. Division St. Danner had heroin on him when he was arrested, police say. Also arrested was Rabecca Hearn, 26, who police say received stolen purses from Danner.

Police believe Danner often smashes car windows to steal purses and other valuables. Danner told police he'd been prowling vehicles to support “a severe substance abuse problem,” according to court documents. Vick also told police he's a heroin addict who prowls cars to support his habit.

Vick, who has a neck tattoo that says “Ladies Love Outlaws,” could not be booked into jail because of medical reasons; police sent charging recommendations to prosecutors and expect him to be summonsed to court once charges are filed.

Danner remains in jail on $10,000 bail for charges of possession of a controlled substance and possession of stolen property.

Police searched Vick's vehicles on Monday and seized suspected stolen identifications and credit cards.

Danner's remarkable criminal history, which includes at least 41 adult felonies and 10 juvenile felonies, includes 25 convictions from 2002 for second-degree possession of stolen property. He was sentenced to two years in prison by Superior Court Judge Ellen Kalama Clark.

His co-defendant, Shelly M. Ose, received nine years in prison when Judge Greg Sypolt rejected a plea bargain. Their criminal records were similar. (Ose's sentence was reduced on appeal to about four years.)

At the time, Clark said she saw no reason to give Danner, who was returned to prison for the fourth time, an exceptional sentence. She did give him a warning, however: “I'm going to remember you, Mr. Danner. The system's had enough of you,'' she said.

Her warning apparently had little effect on Danner.

He went to prison again in 2006 for property crimes in Stevens County, then returned for his sixth stay in 2010 for - again - property crimes.

Clark isn't likely to see Danner this time around; she's assigned to juvenile court but does sometimes handle adult felonies.

60+ felonies sought in burglary ring

Spokane County sheriff's detectivs are recommending about 60 felony charges against four suspects in a burglary ring that victimized more than 20 people.

Denis Buljubasic, 27; Bojan Derzic, 31; Susan Burke, 50; and Dwayne Gunderson, 28, are accused of a burglary spree that was discovered after three of them were stopped for stealing fuel in Spokane Valley in April.

The three were in a stolen van and had checks with them that were traced back to a garage burglary on the South Hill. Police believe they were forging checks and depositing them at local banks. They used the cash to buy methamphetamine and gamble at Northern Quest Casino, detectives say.

Detectives linked them to garage burglaries in the South Hill, Airway Heights and Otis Orchards area by checking pawn shop histories.

Sheriff's property crimes Detective Mark Renz forwarded his charging recommendation to prosecutors today, said Deputy Craig Chamberlin, spokesman for the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Derzic faces charges of second-degree burglary, unlawful production/possession of a financial instrument, first-degree theft, forgery, second-degree theft, second-degree vehicle prowling, first-degree trafficking in stolen property, third-degree theft, possession of a stolen vehicle, money laundering, residential burglary and identity theft.

Burke faces charges of second-degree theft, forgery identity theft, money laundering unlawful production/possession of a financial instrument and possession of a stolen vehicle.

Gunderson faces charges of possession of a stolen firearm, unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.

All are out of jail. Burke failed to appear in Kootenai County District Court in April on property crime charges. Derzic left jail on $50,000 bond on May 24 on a car theft charge in Spokane County Superior Court.

Prosecutors will review the case, file charges, and the suspects either will be arrested on warrants or they'll be summoned to appear in court for an arraignment.

Burke alerted detectives to a large burglary ring that detectives connected to Dean Blackford.

Home burglar caught on tape - who is it?

Detectives are looking for help in identifying a man who burglarized a home in north Spokane County earlier this month.

A photo released today from the homeowner's game camera shows a man wearing gloves leaving the backdoor of the home in the 3100 block of East Deer Park-Milan Road. The homeowners returned from an eight-day vacation June 8 and discovered the break-in, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

The man's accomplice, identified by police as Christopher John Steinbaugh, 32, was arrested last week on a residential burglary charge.

Detectives are asking for anyone with information on the man's identity to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233 and reference case #12-176653.

Steinbaugh already is charged with property crimes for arrests in March and May, including one that occurred when a sheriff's detective recognized him at a pawn shop.

Cops: Gun malfunction stopped murder

A Spokane man who police say would have killed a man had his gun not malfunctioned has been charged with attempted murder.

Carlos Himminez “Atlanta” Hodges, 38, was armed with a handgun when he confronted Kenneth Watkins at Watkins' home in the 1000 block of East 14th Avenue on Dec. 23, charges allege.

Hodges, who allegedly kicked in the front door about 4:38 a.m., demanded Watkins take him to his medical marijuana grow and hit Watkins with the gun when Watkins tried to disarm him, according to court documents.

Hodges stole marijuana, police say, but Watkins said he refused to take him to the basement because he feared Hodges would kill him there.

“Hodges then pointed the gun at Watkins and pulled the trigger, but the gun did not discharge,” according to court documents. “Hodges then ran away.”

Police completed their investigation in April. Hodges was charged this month with attempted first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, second-degree assault and attempted first-degree robbery. He remains in jail on $150,000 bond after appearing in Spokane County Superior Court last week.

4th suspect arrested in ‘09 home robbery

A fourth suspect has been arrested in a gunpoint home-invasion robbery that occurred nearly three years ago.

Travis J. Kulhavy, 28, is accused of robbing four people at a home in the 500 block of East Garland Avenue on Oct. 8, 2009.

Co-defendant Brian L. Gilliam, 28, was sentenced to five years in prison last week.

He and Maurice D. Lofton, 31, (pictured) who pleaded guilty in May 2010 to felony riot, helped police identify Kulhavy and Nicole A. Thompson, 21, as the final suspects in the robbery during interviews in late December and in January.

Thompson pleaded not guilty to the charges in May and is out of jail awaiting an August trial. Kulhavy had been wanted on a $150,000 warrant since May 3. He was booked into the Spokane County Jail Friday afternoon.

The incident began when a woman believed to be Thompson knocked on the front door and asked to use a telephone. Two men then appeared and one used a handgun to strike a man who exited the home and force him back inside. That man was forced to kneel down on the floor in an “execution-style position” as his wrists and ankles were bound with duct tape, according to court documents.

Three other people in the home also were restrained with duct tape and two were beaten with handguns. The robbers asked about drugs and money as they stole a duffel bag of marijuana, as well as cell phones, DVDs, a PlayStation and jewelry.

Police tracked one of the phones to the area of 200 E. Wedgewood Ave. the night of the robbery, where they arrested Gilliam and Lofton.

Gilliam described one of his accomplices as a woman named NIkki who had a tattoo that said “GD” and included a pitchfork.

Thompson showed detective Jeff Barrington that tattoo during an interview in March. “GD” is short for Gangster Disciple. Thompson told Barrington she was present during the robbery but “I did no harm. I didn't hurt no one. Travis did everything. All I did was get the door open,” according to court documents.

Kulhavy and Thompson are charged with four counts of first-degree robbery, four counts of first-degree kidnapping, three counts of second-degree assault and single counts of first-degree burglary and conspiracy to commit first-degree burglary.

Lofton was given the plea deal after the victim failed to identify him in a police lineup. He told Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno at his sentencing that  “I was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. I was messing around with the wrong friends.” Read more here.

Duo arrested for mall-related crimes

A woman and man arrested at the Spokane Valley Mall with stolen credit cards led to an investigation into a series of property crimes.

Tabitha Dawn Creel, 30, and John Andrew Howard, 29, are accused of buying gift cards with stolen credit cards, then trying to return the gift cards for cash.

Howard and Creel was arrested at the mall May 30 after allegedly trying to use a stolen credit card. Creel told deputies she's a heroin addict, and police found heroin in her purse as well as a digital scale.

She said she often pawned stolen items for Howard that included guitars, laptops and an air compressor.

The Spokane County Sheriff's Office burglary task force completed an investigation into the duo Tuesday that calls for them to be charged with 26 felonies, including vehicle prowling, possession of stolen property, money laundering, trafficking in stolen property, possession of a deadly weapon, possession of heroin, identity theft and forgery.
  

Suspect arrested in fitness center thefts

Detectives have identified a suspect in a series of thefts at fitness centers in Spokane and Kootenai counties.

James D. Tilley, 28, was arrested Tuesday on 16 felony charges related to gym locker break-ins and car prowlings at gyms across the region, including at Spokane Community College and Whitworth University. Other agencies, including police in Post Falls and Coeur d'Alene, are investigating similar incidents.

Detective Mark Stewart believes Tilley would steal items from lockers, including car keys that he'd use to prowl vehicles in the parking lot. Stolen items included jewelry and a gun that has been recovered.

Cour documents say the formal charges relate to break-ins at the Valley Fitness Center, 14210 E. Sprague Ave., on March 10, April 5, April 13 and May 8 and Global Fitness, 9233 E. Montgomery Ave., on April 19 and May 17, as well as thefts at the Whitworth University men's aquatic center on April 25.He's also accused of breaking into a car at Whitworth on May 11, then pawning a laptop he'd stolen.

Police identified Tilley as a suspect after an employee at Global Fitness obtained the license plate of the thief's car on May 17, and police traced it to the mother of Tilley's girlfriend.

A sheriff's deputy realized TiIley matched the description of the thief, and witnesses identified Tilley through a photo montage.

Stewart connected Tilley to the use or attempted use of stolen credit cards and also viewed surveillance video from the Zip Trip at West 10th Avenue and South Maple Street that showed Tilley arriving at the location with a backpack just before a citizen found backpack there with stolen wallets and other items taken in the gym thefts.

Police are recommending Tilley's girlfriend, Lindsay K. Nickerson, 27, who they believe drove Tilley to and from many of the break ins, also be charged. She has not yet been arrested.

Thief hits Homeland Security officer’s car

A Spokane woman is accused of stealing a federal Homeland Security officer's passport and and using it to pawn two stolen rifles.

 Investigators identified Amanda Wayne Macklin, 23, as a suspect after finding her number in Double Eagle Pawn's phone records. They say she called the pawn shop on Nov. 21 asking if a passport could be used to sell items there, then went to the East Sprague Avenue store and sold the stolen guns for $475 using a passport belonging to Shannon L. Hart.

Hart was at Oz Fitness at 603 E. Holland in Spokane on Nov. 20 when someone prowled her vehicle and stole her Homeland Security identification card, her passport and a Sig Sauer .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol, according to court documents.

Agents with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms obtained surveillance video of a woman pawning the rifles, which were stolen in a burglary Nov. 21 at a home in the 12000 block of North Denver Street. Macklin's family members identified her as that woman, according to court documents. Macklin told them she dumped Hart's passport and pistol into a dumpster, investigators say.

Federal agents also obtained a recording of Macklin telling her mother in a phone call from the Spokane County Jail that she pawned the guns and burglarized other homes to support her and her sister's drug habit. Macklin and her sister, Jordan Newkirk, already are charged with several felonies for an alleged burglary ring.

In the Dec. 26 break-in, the thieves used a spring-loaded punch to break holes through a lower window at a home in the 100 block of West Falcon Avenue and stole thousands of dollars in jewelry, including a ring that contained the ashes of the homeowner's mother.

Police in Kent, Wash, had noted the unusual burglary tool in Macklin's Kia Spectra when they arrested her there four days before the burglary.

Spokane County sheriff's Detective Mark Newton noted in his report that he and his partner have been detectives for 45 years total and have never found anyone in possesses of such a device, which he said would shatter normal glass but didn't at the Falcon Avenue home because the glass was tempered.

“If one were to use such a punch on a normal piece of glass, the punch would shatter the glass leaving no indication a punch was used,” Newton wrote in court documents.

Macklin was charged in that case in March. Prosecutors filed six new gun and property crime charges May 25 for theft of Hart's passport. Then a federal grand jury indicted her last week on a charge of unlawful possession and barter and disposal of a stolen firearm and misuse o a passport for allegedly dumping Hart's gun and passport.

Repeat offender sentenced to 4+ years

A repeat offender has been sentenced to about four years in prison for drug and property crimes.

Christopher Bruce Gooch, 35, was given an exceptionally high sentence of 50 months in prison. He's in the Spokane County Jail awaiting transport to prison.

A jury convicted Gooch of two counts of eluding police last month. He then pleaded guilty to possession of a stolen motor vehicle, eluding police, unlawful possession of a payment instrument and possession of a controlled substance. He was sentenced May 31.

Gooch was arrested in February after a police chase while driving a stolen vehicle.

Police issued a news release today about his prison sentence that included information on a serial burglar sentenced last month to 108 months in prison. Read more about Donald Myhren here.

“These arrests and convictions are part of an extensive effort by Spokane Police to investigate property crimes and arrest the ROPs responsible for the majority of these crimes,” wrote Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, spokeswoman for the Spokane Police Department.

Myhren was actually arrested by Spokane police last summer, well before the department announced they would only be investigating about 5 percent of property crimes. He was out of jail awaiting trial - and committing more crimes - when the Spokane County Sheriff's Office connected him and his brother to a series of burglaries.

Spokane police helped with that arrest, DeRuwe said today, which occured one day after the City of Spokane and Spokane Police Department announced a renewed focus on property crimes.

Alleged ring thieves can’t stay away

Two Western Washington residents in Coeur d'Alene for just three days were arrested for theft after returning to the victim store the next day, according to police.

  Jeffrey M. Platt, 43, and Alyson M. O'Hara, 37, are accused of stealing three rings from the Wiggett Antique Market Place at 115 S. 4th St., on Monday.

The store owner checked surveillance tapes and noted a man taking the rings from the cabinet. She'd seen him and a woman in the store the previous day.

The duo apparently couldn't stay away. The owner called police Wednesday and said they just walked in. Police arrested them there and determined they'd sold the rings to Moneytree in Coeur d'Alene on Monday.

They were booked into jail on a burglary charge.

Neighbor’s call leads to meth, 2 arrests

A report of a burglary at a vacant home in near Holy Cross Cemetery in north Spokane Tuesday led deputies to arrest two people and seize a methamphetamine and a backpack stolen in a vehicle prowling last March.

Christine Lorrain Blumenshein, 40, and Robert K. Schulte, 30, were arrested at a home in the 7000 block of North Normandie Street after a neighbor reported a suspicious vehicle parked near the home, which had recently been purchased, the Spokane County Sheriff's Office said today.

The neighbor said he saw a man and woman exit the car and walk toward the home, then saw a short while later that the back gate was open.

Blumeshein had a small metal cap with methamphetamine in her hand when she was handcuffed, deputies say.

Deputies also found a tool bag and backpack on the floor of the home that contained snips, tools and 17 key chains with keys to Ford vehicles. A name written on the backpack in black marker linked it to the victim of a vehicle prowling on March 17.

The two were booked into jail for first-degree criminal trespass. Blumenshein also faces a meth possession charge.
  

Homeowner’s info links car theft, burglary

Sheriff's deputies linked a car theft Memorial Day weekend to a residential burglary in Spokane Valley because the victim homeowner wrote down the license plate of the thief's getaway car, officials said today.

A man who owns a home in the area of 4600 E. 2nd Ave. said he arrived home about 9 a.m. Friday and saw a man run from his fenced backyard and drive away in a Honda. The license plate the homeowner wrote down matched the plate of a 1988 Honda stolen from a driveway in the area of 4300 E. 2nd Ave. on May 27, according to the Spokane County Sherifff's Office.

Sheriff's deputy Ryan Smith was patrolling the area of Broadway Avenue near Progress Elementary School Saturday when he spotted the Honda in an undeveloped alleyway near the school. He watched the vehicle until Courtney Lee Baldwin, 38, got in the driver's seat, the sheriff's office said.

Smith detained Baldwin, and the Honda's owner arrived and confirmed he had no idea who Baldwin was. The burglary victim also arrived and said Baldwin was the man he'd seen run from his yard.

Baldwin, who did not speak to deputies, was booked into jail on charges of second-degree burglary, reckless driving (for the burglary getaway) and third-degree driving while suspected. He also faces additional charges of driving while suspended and obsession of a stolen motor vehicle.
  

Motorcycle sounds help break burglary

The sounds of motorcycles led sheriff's deputies in Pend Oreille County to identify two burglary suspects this week.

Sean T. Ponder, 26, and Reesa M. Yancy, 23, were arrested last week after a residential burglary on Deer Valley Road near Newport.

They're accused of stealing motorcycles, tools and guns from the home on Tuesday. Deputies were canvassing the neighborhood for leads when they heard motorcycles in the distance, according to the Pend Oreille County Sheriff's Office. They drove closer to the noise and contacted homeowners who directed them to the home where the motorcycles came from.

Ponder and Yancy were arrested at the home. Deputies recovered the stolen items, as well as other suspected stolen property.

While driving the suspects to jail, deputies heard a report of another burglary nearby. They listened to a description of the stolen items and realized they matched goods found with Ponder and Yancy, the sheriff's office said.

Suspect in prosecutor’s burglary jailed

A man accused of burglarizing a Spokane County deputy prosecutor's garage was arrested for another burglary just eight days after he left jail.

Chance Karl Occhipinti, 42, was free on $3,500 bond when he and a friend broke into a garage in the 1000 block West Maxwell Avenue Saturday afternoon with 34-yera-old Paul Kabrick, who lives in an apartment attached to the garage.

Now he's back in jail on an exceptionally high bond of $75,000 after Superior Court Judge Annette Plese noted his blatant disregard for the conditions she imposed on him should he leave jail, which include committing no further criminal law violations.

A man who owns a home that also shares the garage said Occhipinti and Kabrick urinated and defecated in the building.

Police say Occhipinti admitted to trying to stealing bicycles, a tool box and a speaker from the garage before he was confronted by a resident. He was arrested for second-degree burglary. 

Occhipinti pleaded not guilty Wednesday to four felony charges related to an alleged burglary at Deputy Prosecutor Larry Steinmetz's garage on April 30. Steinmetz attended the arraignment.

The case is being handled by a prosecutor for the city of Spokane, Mary Chavez-Muramatsu, because the victim is county prosecutor. Occhipinti is charged with second-degree burglary, possession of methamphetamine, possession of burglary tools and resiting arrest for allegedly fleeing when Steinmetz tried to apprehend him.

Chavez-Muramatsu added an aggravating factor to the burglary charge because Steinmetz was present when it occurred.

“Both situations could have been far more dangerous,” she said of Steinmetz's case and the most recent one.

She said Occhipinti told police he'd committed 12 other burglaries in the eight days since he left jail.