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3 burglary suspects arrested in Valley

Three burglary suspects were arrested today during searches at two homes in Spokane Valley.

Marina Florianovich, 24, Vyacheslav Znovets, 20, and Michael Mendez, 20, are accused of burglaries between June 23 and July 30 that netted thousands of dollars of jewelry, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Valley property crimes detectives arrested the suspects while searching homes in the 3500 block of South Woodward Road and the 100 block of North Walnut Road.
  

Metal theft nets $250k restitution

A man who stole metal as part of a licensed business has been ordered to pay about $250,000 in restitution.

 Tristan M. Goiri-Christensen, 26, a former Crime Stoppers fugitive, pleaded guilty last week to first-degree theft and eight counts of first-degree trafficking in stolen property and was credited for a day already spent in jail.

He's to be on probation for a year. Goiri-Christensen is part of a band of suspected metal thieves who created a Spokane-based business, complete with licenses from the Washington Department of Revenue, to get around state laws designed to discourage theft by making it tougher for individuals to sell stolen metal to scrap yards.

The state exempts licensed businesses from the mandatory 10-day waiting period for payments of over $30 on scrap metal sold to recyclers. The thefts cost Avista Utilties thousands of dollars. Read more here.

J. Bieber arrested in Spokane

A Spokane woman is accused of stealing from a man who let her use his bathroom while helping her jump her car.

Jennifer Mae Bieber, alias Christensen, was arrested Tuesday after a Spokane Valley police detective revisited the theft report from January and developed probable cause to charge her with fist-degree trafficking in stolen property.

Bieber, 30, is accused of selling a battery charger she stole from a Good Samaritan in January.  The victim saw that Bieber was unable to start her Pontiac Grand Am after a traffic stop near 811 S. Union Road and offered to assist her with jumper cables, a battery charger and a his Cadillac.

The man said Bieber used the bathroom then was instructed to quickly leave by her male companion. The victim discovered his house keys and car keys missing, then discovered his garage entered and a snow blower missing a couple days later.

He identified Bieber from a photo montage last month. Detectives discovered Bieber pawned the battery charger at Axel's Pawn the day it was sotlen, which led to the felony charge.

2 arrested in Garland District SWAT raid

Investigators seized stolen property and drugs and arrested two men today while serving a search warrant at a home in the West Garland District.

The Spokane County Sheriff's Office Burglary Task Force and Investigative Task Force developed information that stolen property and drugs were being trafficked out of a home in the 400 block of West Kiernan Avenue after a "lengthy investigation," according to a news release.

A SWAT team helped secure the home.

Nathan Carter, 29 was arrested for second-degree possession of stolen property, first-degree trafficking in stolen property and possession of heroin.

Jeffrey Jennings, 32, was arrested for possession of meth and heroin and second-degree possession of stolen property, as well as a warrant for drunken driving.

Seized stolen property includes electrical musical instruments, multiple laptop computers, overhead projectors and other electronic components. Some of the items were matched to theft reports through serial numbers, but many will need additional follow up by investigators to identify.
  

Report of burglars in Jetta leads to arrests

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.

Reward for tips on licensed theft suspect

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to the arrest of an accused metal thief who was part of a licensed business.

Tristan M. Goiri-Christensen, 26, is wanted on a $20,000 warrant after skipping a pre-trial conference April 27. He was scheduled to begin trial Monday on theft and stolen property charges.

Goiri-Christensen is part of a band of suspected metal thieves who created a Spokane-based business, complete with licenses from the Washington Department of Revenue, to get around state laws designed to discourage theft by making it tougher for individuals to sell stolen metal to scrap yards. The state exempts licensed businesses from the mandatory 10-day waiting period for payments of over $30 on scrap metal sold to recyclers.

Goiri-Christensen and four others are accused of stealing thousands of pounds of power lines from Avista Utilities and selling the copper wire to fuel their drug habits. The stolen metal meant a massive payday in the thousands of dollars. A business license meant it came instantly. And it was easy to obtain. Read more here.

Goiri-Christensen, 6-foot-3 and 320 pounds, last gave an address in the 300 block of East Rockwell Avenue in Spokane.

Anyone with information on his current location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

2 cars seized; murder probe continues

Police today seized two cars near the scene of last week's homicide as part of an ongoing effort to find any possible evidence related to the case.

"At this point, we need anything and everything," said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, spokeswoman for the Spokane Police Department. "We're not receiving a lot of tips."

Police are canvassing the area of 1800 E. South Riverton today with fliers showing a car battery found where Sharlotte McGill, 55, (pictured) was fatally stabbed in an apparent attack as she walked her dog last Thursday.

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information on the battery, which detectives believe may be associated with McGill's killer.

Officers found a car missing a battery while canvassing at an apartment complex right near the scene. That car is being processed for evidence, as is another car that was possibly prowled but not reported, DeRuwe said.

"We are literally going door to door and car to car," DeRuwe said.

Detectives have checked homeless shelters and have contacted recycling centers where car batteries can be sold for scrap, DeRuwe said.

McGill, 55, (pictured) was walking her dog on a trail along with the Spokane River when a stranger jumped from the bushes about 8 a.m. Thursday and repeatedly stabbed her.

Police say the car battery found nearby was stolen in the same area within a few days of the attack and may be associated with the killer.

McGill was able to describe her attacker before she died. Police say she described him as a black man, about 30 years old with a bad eye.

Anyone with information on the battery, or who may have information on the man or may have seen someone similar is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

DeRuwe urged anyone to call, even if they're not sure of what they saw or they think police already know about their information.

As police continue to search for McGill's killer, her daughter said last week that she feels "really sorry for whoever did this." “Because if they had a mother like I did … they wouldn’t have done this to anybody," said Billie McKinney, 24. Read more here.

Burglary suspect picks wrong pawn shop

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.

Fiberglass cow statue stolen in CdA

Police in Coeur d'Alene are investigating the theft of a large fiberglass cow statue from outside an antique store.

Jeffrey Gagnon, who owns Paris Flea Market at 1815 N. 4th St., has a broken piece of the cow's tail that can be used to positively identify the statue, Officer Bruce Reed noted in his report.

Gagnon said the red and white statue, which was made in the 1940s, was secured with chains that were bolted to the ground but had been cut. The theft occurred between 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Friday, Gagnon told police.

Gagnon said the statue was worth about $2,300. He obtained it about two years ago and said it'd be easy for someone to carry it away because it only weights about 70 pounds.

Anyone with information on the theft should call the Coeur d'Alene Police Department at (208) 769-2320.
  

New charge refutes ‘doing good’ claim

A car prowling suspect who begged a sheriff's deputy for leniency earlier this month has been charged with burglary.

Orlando Jaramillo, 21, (pictured) said he had been "doing good" when he was arrested for stealing a cellphone April 3, but new charges filed in Spokane County Superior Court allege otherwise.

Jaramillo and his brother, Angelo Jaramillo, 22, are accused of stealing an air compressor from a truck parked at North Division Street and East Rockwell Avenue in January, as well as burglarizing a home in the 4100 block of East Pacific Avenue.

Tetyana Landrus, 19, is accused of selling the stolen property at a pawnshop.

The Jaramillos pleaded not guilty to the charges this week in Spokane County Superior Court and remain in the Spokane County Jail.

Rogue lumber employee guilty in fraud

An unauthorized sales agreement between a rogue North Idaho lumber employee and a Spokane company has led to a felony conviction in federal court.

Trevor Mokry, 32, received about $581,000 from The Pallet Place for lumber he sold them from Stimson Lumber Company in Plummer, Idaho, but he didn't have permission to sell the wood and never gave his employer the money.

Mokry, who was responsible for loading and unloading trucks in the lumber yard, admitted to selling the lumber to the company between June 2007 and June 2011, the U.S. Attorney's Office said today.

An employee with Pallet Place drove from Spokane to Plummer to pick up the lumber and give Mokry checks.
Mokry's scheme unraveled June 1 when another employee saw him receive a check for $4,666 from a Pallet Place driver.

Employees noticed that Pallet Place did not appear as a costumer in Stimson's bill records, so they traveled to the Spokane Valley headquarters, where they saw about $200,000 in Stimson lumber.

"Pallet Place was paying Mokry sixty percent or less of Stimson's retail price for the stolen wood products, plus $200 per order," according to court documents.

Mokry was fired June 2. He pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court to aiding the transportation of stolen goods.

Mokry faces restitution of $581,445.24 when he's sentenced, which is scheduled for July 16. He also faces up to 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and three years probation.

Stolen property seized. Is it yours?

All photos of the property are available on the Sheriff's Office website or Facebook page.

The Spokane County Sheriff's Office is trying to identify the owners of suspected stolen property seized Tuesday after a resident reported suspicious activity north of Spokane Valley.

Officials found the items, which include silverware, jewelry and medical cards, in a car that Curtis McKelvey, 28, was driving when sheriff's Deputy James Ebel stopped him for driving with expired tabs near Liberty and Argonne roads about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, sheriff's spokesman Deputy Craig Chamberlin said today.

Ebel was looking for the vehicle after a neighbor in the area of 7900 East Gunning Drive in the Bigelow Gulch reported two suspicious men who'd walked into a backyard after backing a vehicle into a driveway.

McKelvey told Ebel he and his friend were in the area looking for work, Chamberlin said. He later said he was a heroin addict who needed money to buy more.

He allowed members of the sheriff's office burglary task force to search his car, where they located the suspected stolen property, along with bolt cutters, gloves and shaved car keys.

McKelvey was arrested on a felony warrant out of Adams County.

Photos of the property are available on the Sheriff's Office website or Facebook page. Victims who can identify their belongings should call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233 with the number o their theft report. You must provide proof of ownership to get your items back.

Man gets 6+ years for gunpoint robbery

A Spokane man who robbed a convenience store at gunpoint after avoiding prison time for a theft and burglary case is now headed to the big house.

Anthony D. Fuerte, 19, was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison and ordered to pay $99 in restitution - the proceeds of a robbery at the Zip Trip at 2020 W. Francis Ave., in January.

Police found Fuerte hiding in a carport just west of the store. They say he had an Airsoft gun with him, along with money stolen in the robbery.

Fuerte had been given drug treatment instead of prison for a felony theft and burglary case involving nearly $200,000 in stolen goods.

Fuerte also was arrested in December 2010 on suspicion of theft and harassment after a deputy followed his shoe prints through snowy woods.

Fuerte pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery Friday and was sentenced to 80 months in prison by Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen.

Valley police arrest 4 burglary suspects

Police on Friday arrested four men considered to be "well known burglars" responsible for crimes in Spokane Valley, officials said today.

A Spokane Valley night-shift patrol platoon led by Sgt. Don Manning focused on the area of 400 North University Road and the area of 13500 East Rich Road, which police say "have been notorious for criminal activity for some time."

Arrested were Damian M. Plumley, 22, on warrants for three counts of second-degree theft and one count of first-degree trafficking in stolen property; Steven D.T. Devitt, 42, on a warrant for second-degree theft and vehicle prowling; Christopher Michael Stoddard, 20, on new charges of second-degree theft and first-degree trafficking in stolen property; and Mark William Bush, 37, on a Washington Department of Corrections warrant for failure to comply.

 Bush (pictured) is a repeat offender who was targeted by Crime Stoppers in February even though he already was in DOC custody.

Police recovered a large amount of stolen property during the arrests Friday, which property crimes detectives identified and returned to their owners.

"The return of these items took longer than normal because none of the high value items had been reported stolen," sheriff's spokesman Deputy Craig Chamberlin said in a news release. "When detectives asked the property owners why they did not report the thefts, the property owners said they had not gotten around to it."

"Citizens are asked to report any type of theft, suspicious vehicles or persons to either 911 or Crime Check," Chamberlin continued. "This information is extremely valuable and played a vital role with the multiple arrests made this weekend in Spokane Valley. The Sheriff's Office has devoted extra resources to focus on burglaries in unincorporated Spokane County and the City of Spokane Valley."

More charges for back-to-back arrestee

A teenage burglary suspect arrested for another alleged burglary just hours after he left jail is now charged in a third case. 

Reshawn S. Zinnerman, 18, is accused of burglarizing a home in he 1600 block of North Napa Street Feb. 8.

Police say he stole a digital camera, iPod, camcorder and jewelry, then sold them at a pawn shop.

Jyreel D. Brandom (pictured), 18, and Andrea R. Gallardo, 26, are charged with trafficking in stolen property for allegedly helping Zinneman sell the items.

Police say Zinnerman admitted to the burglary and several others after he was arrested Feb. 29. Zinnerman described his back-to-back arrests as a "learning experience" in an interview with The Spokesmen-Review. He remains in jail.

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that led to Brandom's arrest.

Police consider him a repeat offender; he pleaded guilty to to felony second-degree theft and resisting arrest in January and was credited for three days spent in jail. He also has two juvenile felony convictions for theft.

Brandom, 5-feet tall and 160 pounds, is a transient.

Anyone with information on his current location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters do not have to leave their name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.

Reward targets property crime couple

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.

Stolen property in Idaho - recognize it?

Theft and burglary victims in the Kootenai County area should check out photos of suspected stolen property seized by police recently.

 Post Falls police released photos of the items Thursday in hopes the owners will come forward. View all the photos here.

Police seized the items while serving a search warrant recently with the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department.

Anyone who believes the property may be theirs is asked to call Detective John Mason at (208) 773-3517.

Spokane burglary suspect turns self in

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.

Man arrested for school district tool theft

A tip to Crime Check helped police identify a suspect in a burglary at the East Valley School District maintenance office recently.

Christopher David Evans, 29, was arrested today by East Valley School Resource Officer Scott Streltzoff for the Jan. 27 burglary, according to the Spokane Valley Police Department.

Police released a surveillance photo of the thief Feb. 8 in hopes someone would recognize him. Acting on the tip, Streltzoff spoke with a friend of Evans' last Friday about the location of the stolen tools, valued at $300.

Later that Friday, someone concealing their identity with a hooded sweatshirt returned the tools to the front porch of the maintenance building.

Evans was booked into jail about 2:30 p.m. on charges of second-degree burglary and first-degree trafficking in stolen property.

The East Valley School District thanks everyone for their help.

SWAT team nabs property crime suspect

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.

“So many times I wanted to go back to (crime). Money’s tight, and it’s so much easier money,” Luna said.

Read the story here.

Robbery suspect got rehab instead of jail

A Spokane man accused of robbing a convenience store at gunpoint last weekend was given drug treatment instead of prison for a felony theft case last year.

Anthony D. Fuerte, 19, can't leave jail if he does post the $5,000 bond imposed Monday for the now first-degree robbery charge - he's serving a 30-day jail sentence for violating a drug offender sentence imposed in September for a felony theft and burglary case involving nearly $200,000 in stolen goods.

Fuerte was already considered to be in violation of his sentence requirements in that case when a clerk at Zip Trip, 2020 W. Francis, identified him as the gunman who robbed him about 9:43 p.m. on Friday.

Police found Fuerte hiding in a carport just west of the store. They say he had an Airsoft gun with him, along with money stolen in the robbery. One officer said Zip Trip surveillance video "without a doubt" shows Fuerte rob the store at gunpoint.

Fuerte was arrested in December 2010 on suspicion of theft and harassment after a deputy followed his shoe prints through snowy woods.

‘Flint Fire the Frequent Flyer’ arrested

The arrest of a woman wanted for theft since September led police to identify suspects in a residential burglary just a day earlier.

Tami Jo Hearn, 50, alias Raider, had jewelry and checkbooks belonging to a homeowner in the 3300 block of West Woodside Avenue when police arrested her during a vehicle stop at East 29th Avenue and South Fiske Street Jan. 10.

Passenger Flint Fire Herrmann, 34, was arrested on a warrant for felony drug possession. He had a cloth bag with in the car that contained more stolen jewelry, police said. Members of the Spokane police Patrol Anti-Crime Team went to a home in the 2800 block of East 32nd Avenue where the two had been and found more stolen property, including a suitcase.

Homeowner Penni L. Cornwell, 47, faces charges of trafficking in stolen property. Hearn told police on Jan. 18 that Herrmann brought the suitcase full of jewelry to the home early Jan. 10 and planned to sell the items to get money to get his girlfriend out of jail. His girlfriend is Cornwell's daughter.

Hearn and Herrmann appeared in Spokane County Superior Court Thursday on charges of first-degree trafficking in stolen property.

Hearn, a repeat offender, also faces several felony charges for an extensive forgery ring. Crime Stoppers had been offering a reward since September for tips that led to her arrest.

Herrmann also has an extensive criminal history, including convictions for felon in possession of a firearm, car theft, attempting to elude police, drug possession and possession of stolen property.

A court official on Thursday called him "Flint Fire the Frequent Flyer."

Craigslist sales lead to 2 theft arrests

Spokane Valley police arrested two theft suspects this week after victims found their stolen items on Craigslist.

Dana R. McCauley, 40, is accused of stealing cameras from Wholesale Sports at the Spokane Valley Mall.

Employees told police Monday that a man stole five cameras worth $1,600 in the last week and a half, and that the cameras were being sold online. Spokane Valley police property crimes detectives arranged to buy one of the cameras from McCauley and arrested him on theft and trafficking stolen property charges.

On Tuesday, employees at USF Reddaway reported the theft of four or five flat-screen TVs from the business' loading docks in recent months. One of the TV was advertised on Craigslist by a relative of a contract security guard. The man said he didn't now of its stolen status.

The guard, Aaron D. Edvalson, 31, cooperated with detectives and confessed to stealing four televisions, according to police. He faces theft and stolen property charges.
  

Tips sought on pawn shop theft

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.

Police: 5% of property crimes investigated

If you’re a victim of a burglary, theft or car prowling in Spokane, don’t expect to get the crime solved.

The Spokane Police Department announced Wednesday the official elimination of the property crimes unit and said citizens should expect only 5 percent of reported property crime to be investigated.

“We don’t want people to have that false impression that just because you make a police report a detective is going to look at it,” said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, department spokeswoman.

Read the rest of my story here.

3-strikes trial skipper gets life in prison

A Spokane man arrested for a shooting after skipping the last part of his robbery and assault trial was sentenced this week to life in prison under Washington's three-strikes law.

A jury convicted Larry A. Powell, 54, of second-degree assault and first-degree robbery in July for an incident at Kmart after he skipped the last part of the trial.

Crime Stopeprs was offering a reward for his capture when he was identified as a suspect in a July 30 Spokane Valley burglary in which shots were fired at a neighbor who tried to stop the thieves.

Powell is described by Crime Stoppers described as an armed career criminal with a 36-year arrest history that includes convictions for second-degree theft, first-degree theft, third-degree theft, second-degree burglary and second-degree theft.

He's in custody at the Spokane County Jail awaiting transport to prison.

Trial skipper arrested after shooting

A Spokane man wanted by Crime Stoppers after skipping the last part of his robbery and assault trial case was arrested recently after shots were fired at a neighbor trying to stop a burglary.

Larry A. Powell, 54, is now awaiting sentencing and arraignment for separate assault and robbery cases after he was arrested last week, accused of stealing property from a home in the 8500 block of East Cataldo Avenue in Spokane Valley, then shooting at a neighbor who tried to stop him.

The neighbor and his wife saw two men at the home on July 30 about 8:25 p.m. and confronted them, then contacted the homeowner who said no one should be at the home, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office

The neighbor followed the men as they left in a white mini-van before the car turned around and someone began firing at him with a handgun, missing him but disabling his vehicle, according to a search warrant filed Monday. The man was able to record the license plate number, which was a registered to a woman who said she'd left the car with Powell when she moved to Michigan two years ago.

The neighbor identified Powell from a photo montage.

The alleged shooting occurred just days after a Spokane County jury convicted Powell of assault and robbery for an incident at Kmart last fall.

Powell didn't show up for the last days of the trial, but court proceeded without him. Crime Stoppers last week had offered a reward for tips that led to his capture.

Powell was booked into jail Thursday.

Church burglaries lead to 23 felonies

A series of church burglaries last year has led to 23 felony charges against four suspects. 

The burglaries, which police say began when the main suspect and his mother stole a purse from a Mormon church, were done to feed the man's OxyContin addiction, according to court documents.

That man, Andy W. Hoke, 25, (pictured) appeared in Spokane County Superior Court today on 13 charges of second-degree theft, one count of second-degree identity theft and six counts of first-degree trafficking in stolen property.

Hoke told police he burglarized the churches and exchanged stolen goods to Steven D. Kinard, 51, for drugs, according to court documents. Kinard is charged with three counts of possession of a controlled substance, clonazepam, cocaine and hydrocodone.

Hoke's older brother, Jeremiah L. Hoke, 28, is charged with second-degree theft for allegedly stealing a debit card for a church patron on May 4, 2010. A fourth suspect, Daniel I. Heinzen, is charged with six counts of first-degree trafficking in stolen property for allegedly helping Andy Hoke trade stolen property to Kinard.

Victimized churches include Valley Bible Church, Whitworth Presbyterian Church, Intersection Church, Indian Trail Church, First Church of Nazarene and Turning Point Open Bible Church.

Police searched two locations associated with Kinard last year - 16 S. Fiske St. and 2503 E. Seventh Ave. (The Seventh Avenue home is where a judge was to allow Kinard's brother, T-Baby, to spend Thanksgiving during a during a five-hour jail furlough.) Heinzen’s home at 1016 E. Montgomery also was searched

According to the search warrant, Hoke “admitted that he had done several church thefts with his mother until the last month or so when he began doing them on his own."

The scheme fell apart when employees at Mt. Spokane Church called police May 5 and said they’d caught Hoke in the church and believed he was planning a theft.

Hoke was sentenced to 14 months in prison in an unrelated case in April.

He returned to the Spokane County Jail this week to face the new charges.

Kinard posted $2,500 after his arrest last year has been summoned to court. Heinzen and Jeremiah Hoke have also been summoned.

Tip helps identify fuel theft suspects

Photos of two vehicles suspected in a series of fuel thefts led police to identify three suspects, officials said today.

Richard William Tennant, 24, (pictured) faces 17 felony charges for thefts in Spokane and Adams counties in which $5,000 in fuel was purchased using gas cards stolen from the Central Valley School District and a Spokane Valley company, according to police.
 
Surveillance photos were released last week showing a green Dodge pickup and a white Chevrolet or GMC Suburban prompted a citizen to report the pickup's location to Spokane police. 
 
Police say the truck's owner, Jacob Anthony Lorenzo, 38, tried to disguise the pickup by painting the silver door green and changing its wheels and tires. He faces a single count of first-degree trafficking stolen property, three counts of third-degree theft and one count of possession of stolen property.  
 
Suspect Sasha Stanton, 27, also faces three counts of first-degree trafficking stolen property, three counts of third-degree theft and one count of second-degree possession of stolen property. 
 
Police also located the white SUV, which was searched along with the truck and two homes. Police found evidence linking the suspects to the thefts and are asking for help locating Tennant, who faces four counts of first-degree trafficking stolen property, one count of first-degree theft, five counts of second-degree possession of stolen property, two counts of second-degree burglary and five counts of second-degree vehicle prowling. He also has a warrant in Idaho. Anyone with information on his location should call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.
 
Neither Lorenzo or Stanton have been arrested, but their whereabouts are known. 
 
The case was investigated by Spokane County sheriff's Deputy Brian Hirzel.

Deputy offers tips to stop property crime

Mary Beth Jorgensen learned the hard way that theft can occur anywhere. Even in church.

On June 26 people started arriving for Sunday service in the large Coeur d’Alene church Jorgensen attends. Jorgensen, who usually sings in the church’s choir, was instead filling in for the organist.

A bit nervous for her upcoming performance, Jorgensen left her purse on a receptionist’s desk outside of where the service was to take place.

As Jorgensen discovered, theft can occur anywhere, at any time, to anyone. Deputy Travis Pendell, (pictured) a crime-prevention specialist with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, has a few tips to help people avoid becoming what he calls “participant victims.”

Read the rest of Chelsea Bannach's story here.