Latest from The Spokesman-Review
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.
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.
The girlfriend of a suspected serial burglar was arrested today for her alleged role in the spree.
Tawnya Ann Werre, 43, joins her boyfriend, Dean Michael Blackford, in the Spokane County Jail, where Blackford (pictured) has been since his arrest April 24.
Investigators believe Werre is involved in an April 4 burglary at a home in Valleyford in which three young girls hid in a bedroom as a man broke in the front door and ransacked the home. Police believe that man was Blackford.
The case prompted Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, flanked by victim homeowner and mother Melissa Bambock, to announce a new initiative with prosecutors and Spokane police to try to combat property crime, despite dwindling resources.
Blackford, 50, told detectives he burglarized at least 20 homes to fund his methamphetamine addiction.
Detectives believe Werre sold stolen goods at pawn shops. They also believe she helped Blackford burglarize at least some of the homes.
Werre has 10 felony convictions including forgery, theft and drug charges. She was booked into jail today on charges eight counts of residential burglary, five counts of first-degree theft, three counts of second-degree theft, and single counts of second-degree burglary, theft of a firearm, second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, first-degree trafficking in stolen property and possession of methamphetamine.
Blackford has pleaded not guilty to his charges and remains in jail awaiting trial.
Investigators arrested seven others while searching three locations connected to Blackford just after his arrest. Read more here.
Reports of two burglars escaping in a 2004 Volkswagen Jetta led sheriff's deputies to arrest three people recently, including a convicted sex offender.
Deputies located the Jetta parked outside a North Division Street pawn shop shortly after the burglary was reported Sunday in the 7800 block of North Hughes Drive in unincorporated Spokane County, according to the Sheriff's Office.
They stopped the car and identified the driver as Pete Huckaby, 40, who was with Chelsey Loe, 39. Both suspects are accused of trying to sell items stolen in the burglary at the pawn shop.
The duo led deputies to the area of 50 E. Crown Ave., where Joshua Clint Epperson, 32, (pictured) a level was arrested for his alleged role in the burglary.
Sheriff's officials describe Epperson as a “well-known local criminal suspect listed as a repeat offender.”
Court records show he was convicted of third-degree rape of a child in 2003. He also has conviction for indecent liberties.
Detectives served a search warrant at the Crown Avenue home and recovered thousands of dollars in property stolen in the burglary that was returned to the owner. Property suspected to have been stolen in other burglaries also was recovered, according to the sheriff's office.
Huckaby faces charges of residential burglary and first-degree trafficking in stolen property. Epperson faces charges of residential burglary and second-degree escape and Loe faces a charge of second-degree trafficking in stolen property.
A burglary suspect was arrested Tuesday after a sheriff's detective recognized him at a Spokane pawn shop.
Detective Justin Elliot was at Goldbay at 1505 N. Ash St., when he saw Christopher J. Steinbaugh enter the store and receive $115 from the owner.
Elliot recognized Steinbaugh as a suspect in a burglary being investigated by Deputy Eric Epperson. The shop's owner told Elliot that Steinbaugh had sold jewelry at the store the previous day and had come back in to receive the rest of his payment.
Elliot followed Steinbaugh from the store and called Epperson, who confirmed Steinbaugh still was wanted for burglary. Elliot also learned Steinbaugh's license was suspended. Deputies responded and arrested Steinbaugh near a home at 1211 N. Oak St.
Elliot returned to Goldbay and seized the items Steinbaugh had sold there as possible evidence of burglary and stolen property trafficking.
The Ford Explorer Steinbaugh was driving had a stolen license plate.
Deputies responded to the Oak Street home that was associated with Steinbaugh. There, they arrested Brian R. Vavra, 35, on suspicion of threats to kill and discovered a money clip on him that matched a clip Steinbaugh had sold at Goldbay.
That led deputies to obtain a search warrant for the residence. A 7-year-old girl was taken into protective custody by CPS. Deputies also seized suspected stolen property.
Steinbaugh, who has previous felony convictions for identity theft, was booked into jail on a residential burglary charge. He could face more charges. He was arrested in March for meth possession after a police chase.
Crime Stoppers is targeting a couple accused of stealing more than $40,000 in guns, jewelry and electronics from the wife's mother.
Tiffany N. Russell, alias Thompson, and Kevin C. Russell, both 34, are accused of burglarizing her mother's storage unit at 11018 E. Sprague Ave. and her apartment at 6010 E. Sixth Ave. while her mother was out of town.
Her mother let her stay at her home periodically since she was released from prison about two years ago, according to court documents prepared by the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.
She said only her daughter and her daughter's husband knew where the stolen firearms, including a sniper rifle, were located, and knew of the jewelry and electronics that turned up missing from the home. The woman learned her daughter sold some of the items at a Spokane Valley pawn shop. She also found surveillance video at the storage center showing her daughter loading items into her car.
Kevin Russell is charged with second-degree burglary and nine counts of theft of a firearm. Tiffany Russell is charged with second-degree burglary, first-degree theft, three counts of trafficking in stolen property in the first degree and nine counts of theft of a firearm. Prosecutors charged the couple March 23.
Kevin Russell, 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, last gave an address on East 32nd Avenue in Spokane Valley.
Tiffany Russell, 5-foot-8 and 160 pounds, last listed her mother's apartment in Spokane Valley - one of the crime scenes - as her address.
Anyone with information on their current locations is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.
A man suspected of burglarizing a north Spokane County home of a shotgun and a video game system turned himself in after being confronted by a detective Wednesday.
Kory M. Roberts, 23, is suspected of stealing the gun and X-Box 360 from a home in the 31300 block of North Staghorn Road on Tuesday, then selling them at a Spokane pawn shop.
The victim located the items at the pawn shop and contacted police. Roberts provided the shop his contact information when he sold the goods, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.
Spokane County sheriff's Detective Tamie Spitzer called Roberts on Wednesday and gave him two options: turn himself for the burglary or have a warrant issued for his arrest.
Roberts turned himself in at the Public Safety Building “within a couple hours,” according to a news release by sheriff's spokesman Deputy Craig Chamberlin.
Roberts told Spitzer “he had a prescription medication addiction and his criminal activity fed his addiction,” Chamberlin wrote.
Roberts was booked into jail about 1:20 p.m. Wednesday on two counts of first-degree trafficking in stolen property.
A citizen who found his stolen property at a Spokane pawn shop in November led police to identify suspects more than three months later.
A detective recently reviewed reports regarding the Nov. 1 burglary in the 2700 block of North Cedar and identified Casey G. Griner, 21, and William C. Calamanco, 25, as suspects.
A patrol officer had responded to Pawn One on Nov. 2 after Dmitri Cole and his wife, Winifred, found their stolen video game consoles there. Pawn shop employees said Griner had pawned the property.
The reports went untouched until Detective Bob Mosman reviewed them on Jan. 17, interviewed victims, then contacted Griner and Calamanco earlier this month. Mosman believes the men burglarized the home, pawned the property and used the money for drugs.
Calamanco already was in jail when police contacted him - he's facing a vehicular assault charge for a crash Feb. 5.
Griner and Calamanco now face charges of residential burglary, second-degree theft and first-degree trafficking in stolen property.
Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, spokeswoman for the police department, said the case is an example “of how citizens can be proactive in helping police solve property crimes.
The victims in this case had recorded the serial numbers of their stolen items prior to the theft and filed a stolen property report with police following the incident, both of which are critical to an investigation,” DeRuwe said.
In this Oct. 27, 2005 photo, Parolee Victor Luna, left, listens to his mentors Tom Murphy and Suellen Pritchard during a weekly meeting to help Luna adjust to life outside of prison. Luna was arrested this morning on stolen property charges. (SRphotoarchives)
A 30-year-old felon who pledged to turn his life around several years ago is back in jail after a long-term investigation into stolen property trafficking.
Victor Alonzo Luna was arrested after a SWAT team secured his home in the 12700 block of East 31st Avenue in Spokane Valley this morning, according to the Spokane Valley Police Department.
Luna has 10 felony convictions that include assault, unlawful possession of a firearm, riot burglary and possession of stolen property, which prompted the use of the SWAT team.
Luna was arrested without incident on a charge of first-degree trafficking in stolen property.
The Spokane Valley property crimes unit had been investigating Luna for dealing in stolen property. Detectives observed him purchase several items he believed to be stolen, police say.
Luna told investigators he purchases property from a lot of people and “that he did not want to know if the property was stolen or not,” police said. He's prohibited from dealing with pawn shops because of his criminal history, but Luna admitted to enlisting others to pawn property for him, police say.
Luna gave an extensive interview to The Spokesman-Review in 2005 while a member of Going Home, the Washington State Re-entry Project, a pilot program to keep young felons with a history of serious violent crime from victimizing the neighborhoods in which they are released.
At the time, Luna said every day “on the outside” is a major victory.
Spokane County sheriff's detectives are asking for help identifying a woman pictured in these store surveillance photos.
Police believe the same woman on Nov. 21 used a passport stolen in a vehicle prowling to pawn two rifles stolen in a burglary on Nov. 20.
Anyone with information on the woman's identity is asked to call sheriff's Detective Dan Spivey at (509) 477-6376 or Spokane police Detective Lonnie Tofsrud at (509) 625-4221.
Spokane Valley police investigating a large theft and burglary ring are trying to identify a man who pawned stolen property in the city of Spokane.
The man pictured on surveillance video at Pawn One is believed to have concealed a laptop computer under his shirt and given it to an associate who pawned it at Double Eagle Pawn across the street.
Two of three associates have not been located. One associate was interviewed in jail but provided only a first name, which Sgt. Dave Reagan described as “questionable.”
“We would appreciate the public's help in identifying this man,” Reagan said in a news release. “This investigation is part of a larger Spokane Valley Police investigation into a ring of suspects involved in vehicle prowling, identity theft, burglaries and trafficking in stolen property.”
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.
A 21-year-old Spokane man was arraigned on 17 felony charges Tuesday for a burglary spree that initially prompted authorities to consider charges of leading organized crime.
Trevor J. Haugen pleaded not guilty to nine counts of residential burglary, one count of first-degree theft, and seven counts of first-degree trafficking in stolen property for a series of burglaries in the Nine Mile, Indian Trail and Five Mile Prairie neighborhoods in north Spokane County.
Haugen and a 17-year-old boy are accused of stealing jewelry, silverware, TV, iPods and other electronics from homes between May 6 and June 27, then selling the items at pawn shops.
Several people are believed to have sold items for Haugen and suspect Bo R. Poffenroth, 25, prompting authorities to file leading organized crime charges that have since been dismissed.
Haugen is at Geiger Corrections Center on $100,000 bond.
A Spokane woman who police say pawned a staff containing bald eagle feathers and talons has been charged with a crime.
Kristina D. Booth faces up to a year in prison, five years probation and a $5,000 fine if convicted of knowingly selling any bald eagle part.
Booth is accused of selling the staff for $40 at the Double Eagle Pawn Shop in October 2009.
Agents with the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife were notified of a staff containing five bald eagle feathers and one eagle claw with four talons in February. They identifed Booth as the seller through store records.
Booth was in the Spokane County Jail on drug charges when agents approached her; she said the feathers were from a goose before admitting they were eagle feathers, according to court documents.
Booth has bee summoned to an arraignment U.S. District Court.
Spokane Valley police recently arrested a man for a series of vehicle prowls targeting Ford trucks after using Department of Licensing records to identify the suspect's SUV.
Surveillance video showed two men breaking into several Ford trucks at different locations and leaving in a green Chevrolet Suburban with a temporary license plate in the rear window.
Detectives looked through the DOL database for recently purchased Suburbans and found a 1998 green one purchased by Peter N. Harras, 29. Harras (left) was listed in the pawn shop database as having pawned several items between Aug. 1 and Sept. 18, which was the same period as the prowlings. The items matched items stolen in the prowlings.
Harras was arrested Friday at his apartment, 940 S. Lincoln St., where detectives found other items stolen in the prowlings.
Harras, who has several felony convictions for theft and stolen property, remains in jail on $7,500 bond after appearing in Superior Court Monday.
Police still are looking for Johnnie Lee Bonner, 33, (right) whom they say acted as an accomplice. He is white, 6 feet tall, about 250 pounds and has a shaved head and a white pride tattoo on his arm.
Anyone with information on Bonner's location is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.
Here's a news release from Sgt. Dave Reagan:
Officers arrested a 29-year-old Spokane Valley man Saturday after determining that he had stolen a pair of expensive rings from an elderly neighbor.
The victim told Officer Cindy North-Jones that Landon A. Carothers had done yard work and other odd jobs for her in the past. At about noon Saturday, she let him into her apartment to discuss other work he might do for her.
During the visit, Carothers asked to use the victim’s bathroom. After he left, she discovered a pair of rings that had been on the bathroom shelf missing. One ring was valued at $2,000 and the other at $500.
North-Jones was joined by Officer Ryan Smith and they attempted to contact Carothers at his apartment. No one answered the door, but the suspect and his girlfriend were found on bicycles at Appleway and Sprague. Neither claimed any knowledge of the theft.
North-Jones went to Pawn One and learned that the girlfriend had attempted to pawn one of the rings, but was offered only $20 and decided to keep it. Confronted with this information, the suspects pointed out in a nearby field where they had stashed the stolen jewelry.
North-Jones arrested Carothers and drove him to the Spokane County Jail to be booked on a felony count of Second-Degree Theft. The girlfriend may face criminal charges for her participation at a later date.
Surveillance video from a local pawn shop helped identify a young couple who police believe stolen purses from at least four women in grocery store parking lots.
Samantha D. Thomas, 21, and Andrew V. Auerbach, 24, were arrested Saturday but are out of jail on their own recognizance.
Police say Thomas implicated herself in four robberies in April and May during an interview with police at the Public Safety Building on Saturday. She and Auerbach, who applied for a marriage license last year, were seen on camera pawning a victim's camera after police developed information that they were suspects.
They are believed to have stolen purses April and May 7 at Safeway, 2509 E. 29th Ave., and again May 7 at Fred Meyer, 525 E. Francis Ave.
Thomas confessed to another purse snatching outside Winco on North Nevada Street during her interview with police. The victim came forward after media reports, and police plan to recommend an additional theft charge.
The Spokane County Sheriff's Office continues to investigate a purse theft outside Fred Meyer in Spokane Valley May 9.
A jewelry store owner tracked down a theft suspect and Idaho fugitive Monday by warning nearby pawn and jewelry shops to be on the lookout for someone selling a gold wedding band.
Donald Jack Seed, 23, of Liberty Lake, was arrested on a misdemeanor third-degree theft charge after trying to sell the stolen ring at Pawn One, according to the Spokane Valley Police Department.
Seed is accused of stealing the ring from Artistry in Gold, 13817 E Sprague Ave., after looking at a pair of rings but only returning one, police said. Seed ignored an employee's command to stop and drove away in a gray Saturn, police say.
The owner described the Saturn to nearby businesses when calling to warn them that a thief may soon be trying to sell a gold ring.
Shortly after the warning, Seed allegedly tried to sell the ring at the pawn shop. Employees called police, and Officer Ken Dodge arrested Seed without incident.
Seed also was booked into jail on a felony fugitive charge related to a probation violation for a drug conviction in Idaho.
Two men arrested last week may each be the Inland Northwest's version of the Grinch.
Steven J. Karvela, 39, is suspected of stealing Christmas package from Spokane homes, then selling the would-be gifts at pawn shops. Joseph Michael O’Masters, 43, of Hayden Lake, was arrested in Coeur d'Alene that same day for grand theft after police found him with stolen property worth more than $1,275 in the 3200 block of West Manning Loop.
Spokane police were on alert after several thefts were reported in Spokane and Kootenai counties when a woman reported a package stolen by a man in a Honda-type car. She wrote down what she thought was a license plate, and police spotted a 1992 Ford Escort with a similar plate outside a Spokane pawn shop on Christmas Eve.
Police stopped the car, and the driver, later identified as Karvela, said he lent his drug dealer his car and, in return, the dealer told him he could sell any property left in the car, according to court documents.
Karvela told police that he “know the property was 'probably' stolen, that he was 'in trouble' and that he was going to prison,” police wrote.
Karvela had pawned several expensive items in the last couple of days, police said.
He's in custody at Geiger Correction Center on $5,000 bond after appearing in Superior Court on Monday on stolen property charges.
Thefts have been reported in the South Hill area near Cannon Hill, near Whitworth College and in the deeper southeast areas of south Spokane, police said. Victims should report thefts to Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.
A 23-year-old Spokane man once considered one of the city’s top 10 repeat offenders was sentenced this morning to eight years in prison.
Allen S. Easley was in and out of jail several times last spring for property crimes and a freeway chase with police in which he reached speeds of 100 mph.
Now he’ll have a spot at a state prison after Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza approved a plea deal that sentenced him to 100 months in prison.
Easley pleaded guilty this morning to nine felonies, including four counts of second-degree burglary, two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm, and single counts of forgery, possession of a stolen motor vehicle and first-degree trafficking in stolen property, said Deputy Prosecutor Eugene Cruz.
Easley, who police say has a swastika tattoo on the back of his head, was arrested after a freeway chase in May but posted bail, then was arrested again a couple weeks later while trying to sell stolen property at a Hillyard pawn shop.
A burglary suspect arrested after reaching 100 mph during a freeway chase two weeks ago but later released from jail is back behind bars after police say he tried pawning stolen guns.
Allen S. Easley (right), 23 and considered one of Spokane top 10 repeat offenders, was picked up Tuesday at Pawn One, 3705 N. Market, along with Brittnei J. Fawver, 19 (left).
Easley’s current stay at the Spokane County Jail is his fourth since mid-April.
“This is a chronic pattern of crime sprees committed by prolific repeat offenders who continue plague our community,” said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe in a news release.
Easley was arrested earlier this year on car theft and drug charges but spent little time in jail, documents show. He was back by the end of April, however, after a suspected check forger told police it was Easley who stole the check during a burglary at a car dealership.
During questioning in connection with that case, Easley reportedly admitted to another burglary and told police of a woman who has equipment to make bogus checks using legitimate bank account numbers stolen from bills left in mail boxes, according to court documents. Easley appeared in court May 3 but left jail shortly after, and prosecutors have not yet filed burglary charges.
Police arrested the woman accused of making checks, Kristina Fricke, as well as Easley’s girlfriend, Randi Shepherd, April 30 in connection with the burglary investigation, but neither has been charged.
Also arrested was 36-year-old Kimberly L. Fawver (right), on charges of possession of a stolen motor vehicle, forgery and identify theft. She was arraigned on Tuesday and remains in jail.
Easley said he used Kimberly Fawver’s car to commit at least one of the burglaries, according to court documents. It’s unclear if Brittnei and Kimberly Fawver are related.
Easley returned to jail after a high-speed police chase May 9. He posted $20,000 bail May 14 but remains behind bars after appearing in Superior Court today on new charges.
Police believe Easley and Britteni Fawver may be responsible for other thefts in Spokane and released their mug shots Wednesday in hopes alleged victims will file reports with Crime Check, (509) 456-2233.
Easley has a swastika tattooed on the back of his head, police said.