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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.

Prolific burglar helps bust serial burglar

Watch me discuss this story with KHQ's Dave Cotton.

A prolific burglary suspect arrested for a fuel theft in last week helped detectives identify a suspect in a series of rural Spokane County burglaries, including one that occurred as three children hid in the home

Susan Burke, who is awaiting trial in Kootenai County for a large burglary ring, told detectives that Dean Michael Blackford, 50, burglarized mostly rural Spokane County homes during the day, according to court documents.

Burke, 50, said Blackford targets higher-end homes for jewelry, tools and electronics, and that his girlfriend, Tawnya Werre, 43, sold jewelry at various stores in Spokane.

Detectives used a GPS device to track Blackfod's truck before arresting him on Tuesday.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

April 10: Property crimes frustrate sheriff

Gas theft helps cops bust burglary ring

A fuel theft at a Spokane Valley gas station this week led police to uncover a suspected burglary ring, officials said Friday.

 Bojan Derzic, 30, told police he'd committed 10 to 15 burglaries in recent months after he was arrested for allegedly stealing fuel at 411 N. Pines Road on Tuesday, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Deputy Rick Johnson stopped Derzic driving a van near Mission Avenue and Woodward Road. He had a suspended license and admitted to the fuel theft, police said.

With Derzic in the van were Denis Buljubasic, 27, and prolific burglary suspect Susan Burke, 50 (pictured).

While investigating the gas theft, Spokane Valley police Sgt. Dave Martin recognized the color of the van listed on the registration did not match the color of the van registered to its license plates. A check of the VIN confirmed the van had been reported stolen in November 2011 in Liberty Lake.

Derzic and Burke also had checks that didn't belong to them. Police say the two stole the checks from a garage on the South Hill and had been forging them and depositing them at local banks. They used the cash to buy methamphetamine and gamble at Northern Quest Casino.

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

The suspects also directed police to a Toyota truck they'd stolen in north Spokane a week ago and left near East Broadway Avenue and North Madelia Street.

Buljabasic was released at the scene of Tuesday's stop, but Spokane police advised they had probable cause to arrest him for his alleged involvement in burglaries on the South Hill, along with Derzic.

The Spokane police Patrol Anti-Crime Team located Buljabasic in a car parked at the Airway Heights WalMart on Thursday. He was with Derzic, who had been released from jail just hours earlier. Both were arrested on suspicion of burglary. They admitted to other burglaries and crimes, police say, and Derzic was found to be in possession of methamphetamine. A slew of felony charges are expected.

Idaho burglary suspect arrested in Valley

A suspect in a string of burglaries in North Idaho was arrested Friday after a shoplifting incident turned violent at the Spokane Valley Wal-Mart.

 Susan Burke, 50, was out of custody on $5,000 bond awaiting trial in Kootenai County when a store security officer spotted her leaving the store with concealed merchandise Friday about 1:40 p.m.

Employees tried to stop Burke, but she struggled with them and threw her purse toward the door. Employees grabbed it e and found Burke's driver's license inside. They checked Burke's name in store records and discovered she'd been banned in 2010 from all stores for life after getting caught shoplifting twice.

Burke, who is scheduled for trial in Kootenai County in May for property crimes, was booked into jail on theft, burglary and robbery charges after police contacted her at her home at 303 E. Indiana Ave.

Police also contacted a 17-year-old boy who lives with Burke at the home and is identified as her boyfriend.

The boy is charged in juvenile court for an incident last July in which he allegedly failed to call for help after his friend fell in the Spokane River and drowned.

Photo shows suspects in burglary ring

The suspects in a string of burglaries in North Idaho and Spokane County are pictured. Top row, left to right:  Joseph A. Lynch, 29; Adam C. Ramirez III, 29; Jesse A. Williamson, 27; Susan N. Burke and alias Susan Church, 50. Bottom row: Kasie D. Gordon, 25; Emily A. Lynch, 28; Kathleen E. Kelly, 29; and Heather D. Yao, alias Heather Perry, 31.

Burke was the last suspect arrested. Read more here.

Woman is final fugitive in burglary ring

UPDATE: Burke was arrested about 1:30 p.m. today in the 100 block of East Indiana Avenue in Spokane.

A Spokane woman is the only suspect at large in a two-state burglary ring after a 27-year-old Post Falls man turned himself in.

 Susan N. Burke, 50, alias Susan Church, is wanted on a $100,000 warrant for conspiracy to commit grand theft. Crime Stoppers is offering a rewed for tips that lead to her capture.

Jesse A. Williamson, 27, surrendered to police Monday at 2:30 p.m., polie said today.

A third suspecet, Joseph A. Lynch, 29, of Coeur d'Alene, was taken into custody without incident at the Days Inn hotel, 120 W. Third Ave., late Friday after a coordinated effort between the North Idaho Violent Crimes Task Force and the Spokane Police Department.

Four others, including Lynch's wife, have been arrested for various theft-related charges.

The suspects are accused of a rash of daytime home-invasion burglaries in Coeur d'Alene, Post Falls, Rathdrum, Hayden, Sandpoint and Spokane over the last several months.

Burglary suspect arrested in Spokane

A man wanted in connection with a burglary ring spanning Spokane County and North Idaho was arrested Friday in Spokane.

 Joseph A. Lynch, 29, of Coeur d'Alene, (pictured) was taken into custody without incident at the Days Inn hotel, 120 W. Third Ave., about midnight after a coordinated effort between the North Idaho Violent Crimes Task Force and the Spokane Police Department, according to the Coeur d'Alene Police Department.

Susan N. Burke, 50, alias Susan Church, and Jesse A. Williamson, 27, still are wanted for burglary and grand theft in connection with the rash of daytime home-invasion burglariesin Coeur d'Alene, Post Falls, Rathdrum, Hayden, Sandpoint and Spokane over the last several months.

Four others, including Lynch's wife, have been arrested for various theft-related charges.

Crime Stoppers of the Inland Northwest has offered a reward for information on their whereabouts. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or submit tips online.

Cash for tips on serial burglary suspects

  Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to the arrest of three suspects in a string of burglaries in North Idaho and Spokane County.

Joseph A. Lynch, 29, (left) and Jesse A. Williamson, 27, (right) of Coeur d'Alene, and Susan N. Burke, (below) alias Susan Church, 50, of Spokane, are wanted for various theft-related charged in Kootenai County District Court.

Kathleen E. Kelly, 29, of Coeur d'Alene, turned herself into police are learning of her fugitive status through media reports, police said today.

Also in custody is Emily A. Lynch, 28, of Coeur d'Alene, as well as Heather D. Yao, alias Heather Perry, 31, Adam C. Ramirez III, 29, and Kasie D. Gordon, 25, all of Post Falls. 

The suspects are believed to be responsible for numerous daytime home burglaries in Coeur d'Alene, Post Falls, Rathdrum, Hayden, Sandpoint and Spokane.

Photos of Lynch, Williamson and Burke will be featured on billboards at no cost to law enforcement thanks to Lamar Outdoor, a national billboard company with an office in Spokane.

Anyone with information on their current locations is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or submit tips online.

Spokane duo arraigned in vintage car heist

Two convicted felons accused of a burglary in which an antique Ford car was stolen pleaded not guilty this week in Spokane County Superior Court.

The suspects, Susan Burke, 48, and Shane P. Venziano, 34, (pictured in 2006) were arrested June 7 after police found them inside a home at 2615 W. Dean. A neighbor had called to report a black 1954 Ford car missing from the garage.

“It hasn’t been driven since 1975,” said owner Benjamin L. Franklin, 59, who doesn’t live at the home. Franklin’s grandfather bought the car new in 1954. “It’s something I remember riding in when I was 5 years old.” 

Police connected the heist to a Spokane tow shop owner after Burke said the car had been stolen by her daughter and a man named Richard who owns tow shop. 

“They came prepared,” Franklin said. “They took it on a flat-bed truck.”

Police identified the man as Richard D. Ziesmer, who owns Pacific Towing, 4028 E. Central, and has talked to police on several occasions, according to court documents.

Detectives found the truck at Ziesmer’s shop.

“Ziesmer admitted that he bought the vehicle knowing that it was likely stolen,” according to court documents. “Ziesmer could not say who he bought it from.”

Ziesmer did not return a phone call seeking comment.

The antique car sustained damage on the front fender and driver door during the theft, Franklin said. Franklin got the car back after three days and plans to restore it and drive it again.

Venziano, who police say was arrested with a vintage White Chief tape measure and gold spoon stolen from the home, and Burke pleaded not guilty Tuesday to one count of residential burglary each and are out of jail on bond.

Both are convicted felons, including a manslaughter conviction against Venziano for the 2000 death of 17-year-old Carlosse Brown. Venziano was sentenced to 100 months in prison.

Ziesmer, 46, was arrested June 10 and left jail on $5,000 bond June 14. He was to be arraigned Tuesday on charges of second-degree burglary, theft of a motor vehicle and possession of a stolen motor vehicle, but no charges have been filed.

Ziesmer was involved in a dispute over a car trade last fall that police say ended with 28-year-old Merle W. Harvey shooting Jacob J. Potter and Jack Lamere to death in September.

Ziesmer worked with Lamere and told The Spokesman-Review that Harvey had left him a voice message threatening him and Lamere over a trade involving a Blazer and Cadillac. He offered a $1,500 reward for Harvey’s capture.