Latest from The Spokesman-Review
Authorities hope a recent arrest will convince a suspected frequent laundry room burglar to change his ways.
Jason Amyot, 32, is being held at the Geiger Corrections Facility near Spokane International Airport, facing 17 counts of second-degree burglary. Police say Amyot went on a “crime spree” in Spokane Valley from September through October, breaking into laundry facilities at apartment complexes and busting open the machines to steal the coins within.
The thefts ranged in value from $12 at a complex on South Whipple Road late in September to a relative heist at a commercial laundry facility on East Sprague Avenue on two days earlier in the month, in which Amyot is thought to have stolen more than $2,000. Surveillance footage from that scene led officers to suspect Amyot, who has a long criminal history during which he's established a pattern of stealing from laundry machines, according to investigators.
Amyot said he was responsible for all but one of the 18 incidents police have linked to him. On some occasions, Amyot broke locks to get into the private laundry facilities; in others, he pried open windows from the outside or used keys that were hidden nearby. In at least one of the incidents, Amyot stole from facilities where friends were living, according to court documents.
One attempt, at a complex on Argonne Road, proved unsuccessful because the landlord had removed the change the day before the break-in, according to investigators.
Amyot has been in police custody since mid-October. He is being held on multiple warrants.
The Spokane County Sheriff's Office is hoping the public can shed some light on a man they say stole a flashlight from a Spokane Valley Walmart over the weekend.
The man was captured on surveillance video entering the store at 5025 E. Sprague Ave. around 4 p.m. Sunday. He is a white male, wearing jeans, a grey collarless shirt and a dark zip-up sweatshirt with a light beard and short cropped hair.
According to an undercover officer in the store, the man left the location without paying for a flashlight he was carrying. When confronted in the parking lot, the man brandished a knife and fled to a nearby vehicle.
Police ran the vehicle's plates, which were written down by the store officer. The car was reported stolen. It has been recovered by authorities, but police have no leads on a suspect.
If you have information about the incident, the Sheriff's Office is asking that you contact Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS or online at crimestoppersinlandnorthwest.org. A cash reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest in this case.
The alleged theft of a $2 bottle of ibuprofen could lead to weeks of legal headaches for a Spokane man.
Michael Ewing was arrested Saturday after an undercover officer at an East Central grocery store said he saw the 52-year-old sneak a bottle of off-brand painkillers into his pants pocket. The officer approached Ewing when he went to pay for other purchases, and several witnesses said when the officer informed Ewing he would be placed under arrest, he began swinging his fists wildly, striking the officer in the eye. Store employees and the officer eventually subdued Ewing by placing him in handcuffs, according to court documents.
Prosecutors initially sought a charge of first-degree robbery for Ewing, who has two prior felony convictions back in the late 1970s. But at a first appearance in Spokane County Superior Court on Monday, Judge James Triplet ruled prosecutors had only proven probable cause for lesser charges of assault and theft.
Ewing was released from custody without bail. He is due in court to address the charges later this month.
Charnay Robinson may have taken one too many trips to the superstore.
Robinson, 27, was arrested Monday at the Walmart on East Sprague after police say she used a Visa credit card that had been reported stolen this weekend. Account records showed 13 charges totaling more than $750 on the card between Saturday and Monday, with seven of them occurring at the Walmart, mostly for prepaid debit cards that can be used anywhere. Cameras caught Robinson making those purchases Sunday.
According to court documents, Robinson was banned from Walmart stores nationwide in May. It was not clear in the records what caused that ban.
Police picked up Robinson after she returned to the Walmart on Monday. She was found at the customer service desk trying “to get help with a Walmart gift card that was not working,” according to court documents.
Robinson appeared in Spokane County Superior Court on Tuesday, facing seven charges of burglary and one theft charge. Her bail was set at $2,050. Police note in court records more charges are likely to be filed.
On his Regan for Trustee Facebook page, Brent Regan tells of a political sign being pilfered within 48 hours after he put it out. But Regan sign pilferers shoud beware. In 2010, the trustee/inventor built a few, tiny, camouflaged cameras w/motion sensing for a candidate that he supported. As a result, Regan and his candidate were able to catch a thief, as a camera snapped a photo of the male in action, along with his car license plate. Regan comments: “I mailed the parents a copy of the picture showing junior in action and a brief note. Problem solved.” Regan sez he has the cameras “on the charger now.”
Question: Why do you suppose would someone steal a candidates' yard signs?
Not only did a burglar steal away with a Newport homeowner’s truck early Thursday morning, he cooked a meal in the victim’s kitchen.
The homeowner woke up around 2:30 a.m. to investigate a noise downstairs when he saw the truck driving away with the burglar at the helm.
He realized the burglar broke in through the dog door, he told dispatchers.
Deputies found the stolen vehicle about 14 miles north of Newport on State Route 20 after noticing the driving operating the truck in an erratic manner, the news release said.
They pulled the driver over and identified him as James M. Ericksen, 30.
Deputies arrested Ericksen for vehicle theft, a DUI, driving with a suspended license and a failure to appear for an incident in another county.
The Spokane County Sheriff's Office has issued its annual warning about people leaving valuables in their cars when parking at Centennial Trail trailheads. More people are out and about in the warmer weather, trail users and criminals alike. A Sheriff's Office press release says that numerous thefts have been reported at trailheads and most involve people who have left valuables in plain sight in their cars - IPads, GPS units, purses, brief cases and more.
Either leave those items at home or conceal them in the trunk. If you do conceal items, do it before you arrive so no one watching the trailhead can see what you hide.
A man connected to thefts in the Lincoln Heights area has been arrested by Spokane Police officers for driving a stolen vehicle, according to a news release.
Police found Thomas M. Clement, 39, on Wednesday near Ralph and Riverside, driving a vehicle reportedly connected to two car theft cases on the Spokane Community College Campus earlier this month and a burglary, detectives said.
Clement allegedly entered campus locker rooms and used bolt cutters to steal car keys from lockers, the news release said.
Investigators also believe Clement is connected to a series of commercial burglaries on the South Hill area that targeted Radio Shack, Hastings, GameStop, Ace Hardware and more, in addition to two suspects arrested in February for similar crimes.
Curtis D. McKelvey, 29, and Chelsea A. Linerud, 24, were arrested when officers found a man smashing a Radio Shack window with a crowbar, earlier reports said.
Clement is charged with two counts of burglary, theft of a motor vehicle and first-degree trafficking of stolen property.
A man exaggerating the size of a damaged patio cover was convicted in Spokane County Superior Court today for filing a fraudulent insurance claim for nearly $200,000.
A real estate agent described the cover as “small and nothing special or significant,” according to the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner news release, but 48-year-old Keith R. Scribner painted a different story when he filed a claim for a roof damaged by the weight of snow in 2009.
Scribner filed the claim on behalf of Marilyn Warsinske, his mother, whose policy covered a replacement, the news release said.
Even the claims representative thought the bids were a joke, the news release said, and Scribner was unable to prove the size of the patio cover through photos.
Actual photos of the home found on a real estate website did not depict the capacity Scribner described, the news release said.
Investigators contacted the previous homeowners who described the patio originally as canvas, but they bought a polycarbonate cover for about $300. Additional interviews with builders speculated bids would range to about $4,800.
Scribner will be sentenced in court on April 16 for insurance fraud and attempted theft.
The caretakers of Saltese Cemetery are looking for missing benches that are similar to these sculpted by Concrete Works, a Spokane Valley company. Photo courtesy of Concrete Works.
Apparently two benches featuring decorative rabbits have turned up missing from the Saltese Cemetery. The benches had been inside a gazebo. The benches had been purchased about 10 years ago as a nod to the wild rabbits that regularly hop throughout the cemetery. Anyone who has information on where the benches are located is asked to call Mary and Bill Cabbage at (509) 926-0895. There is a reward for their return. Click here for more details.
A man wanted on theft charges in Minn. was caught over the weekend by Pend Oreille County authorities after he was found hiding in a cabin near Bead Lake with his girlfriend, according to a Pend Oreille County Sheriff’s news release.
Deputies learned last week Justin L. Feldt, 32, and Jessie A. Pechia, 26, were possibly on their way to Bead Lake, about ten miles north of Newport, Wash. Deputies found an abandoned vehicle that matched his vehicle’s description and began canvassing nearby summer homes.
They also learned a small row boat had been stolen nearby and they believed it was used to visit the other side of the lake only accessible by boat or an ATV, according to the news release.
Deputies borrowed an ATV from Idaho authorities and drove it to the lake cabin where they found Feldt and Pechia. They were arrested on Dec. 15 local burglary, firearm, theft, obstruction charges and the additional out-of-state warrants from Minnesota.
Feldt was originally sought by Minn. authorities for felony charges of check and mail theft and financial fraud. A warrant for his arrest was issued Nov. 21, according to the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office website.
Do you recognize this man?
Spokane Valley property crimes detectives are asking for the public's assistance in identifying a vehicle theft suspect.
The theft occurred Nov. 20 near the 13100 block of East Indiana Avenue in Spokane Valley.
Anyone that can assist detectives in identifying the suspect in the surveillance photos from Walmart on East Broadway in Spokane Valley is asked to contact Detective Darin Staley at 509-477-3363.
Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― A 32-year-old eastern Idaho man is headed to prison for a year after acknowledging he stole thousands from an Indian reservation casino. John R. Mejia of Rigby was sentenced Tuesday to 12 months plus a day, followed by three years of supervised release and the requirement he repay $177,611. Mejia was indicted in July 2011, on one count of theft from the Shoshone-Bannock Fort Hall Casino. He'd been working there as a gaming technician and admitted he took money from the casino by creating duplicate vouchers from gaming machines and redeeming the vouchers for cash. U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill says Mejia didn't merely steal from a casino, he targeted a nation of 5,000 people: The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson adds that Mejia abused the public's trust.
Said Olson, “I commend the cooperative work of Fort Hall Tribal Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
Spokane police arrested a panhandler Thursday afternoon after discovering he had a stolen car.
A man left a vehicle parked near the Office Depot by Wellesley Avenue and Division Street and proceeded to the intersection with a cardboard sign to panhandle, according to a Spokane Police Department news release.
Officers discovered the car had been reported stolen from the South Hill area two days ago and arrested Alex D. Treadway, 30, as he returned to the vehicle after collecting money from a number of motorists.
Treadway was booked into Spokane County Jail for possession of a stolen vehicle. He is a convicted felon with numerous Spokane-area arrests, including felon in possession of a firearm, armed burglary, assault with a deadly weapon and theft, according to police.
“Consider carefully who you might be rolling your window for,” police Spokesman Sgt. Jason Hartman said in the news release.
“The Spokane Police Department wants to remind the public that a multitude of government and charitable services exist, especially downtown, to assist people with food, shelter and medical needs,” Hartman said. “Members of the department are aware of numerous instances where panhandled donations have not gone for the stated purpose.”
The Spokane City Council passed an ordinance in August banning panhandlers in certain areas from reaching into the street to take money from drivers.
The affected area is south of Boone Avenue, west of Hamilton Street, north of Seventh Avenue and east of the Maple-Ash corridor on major arterials, including state highway routes. It also includes interchanges along the entire Interstate 90 corridor inside the city of Spokane.
Chances are, you have heard cynics say that anything on your property that isn't bolted down will eventually be stolen.
Well, apparently even that particular security measure is not always adequate.
Just the other day, someone ripped a planter off a North Side friend's porch. And, yes, it had been bolted to a metal plate affixed to the porch. So yanking it free must have taken some doing.
Aren't people swell?
The Sheriff's Office is warning of a surge in vehicle prowling in the Greenacres area of east Spokane County.
Nearly 24 prowlings have been reported to Crime Check since Monday. They've occurred mostly between Barker Road and Harvard Road, and north of Sprague Avenue to the Spokane River.
Many victims left their car doors unlocked or their windows rolled down, according to a news release. Some of the cars also contained electronics, purses, wallets and other valuables in plain sight.
Most cars were prowled during the late evening.
The Sheriff's Office reminds people not to leave valuables in their cars and to report suspicious activity to Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.
Spokane Police Department launched a “remove it or lose it” campaign last month that aims to help citizens prevent car prowlings. Read more here.
A conman who went to prison for duping people out of $124,000 for a fraudulent cattle farm investment is likely headed back here after pleading guilty to a similar scheme in North Idaho.
James Andrew Harris, 44, pleaded guilty to wire fraud Monday and faces up to 20 years in prison when he's sentenced Nov. 5.
Harris admitted to stealing about $108,000 from a Florida resident whom he'd solicited as an investor in the beef industry.
Harris told the victim he had a “connection” who helped restaurants, supermarkets and other purchasers of beef finance their purchases, according to a news release by the U.S. Attorney's Office. “Harris represented that there was a great deal of money to be made in financing the purchases and encouraged the individual to participate.”
Harris created the email account firstname.lastname@example.org to assist in the fraud, which occurred between July 2010 and June 2011.
The fraud began less than three months after Harris was released from federal prison after being sentenced to 27 months for the cattle investment fraud. Harris paid those investors with counterfeit checks, according to a plea agreement.
Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that solve a gun and car theft at a Coeur d'Alene business.
Someone entered Tate Engineering, 1103 N. 4th St., early July 30 and stolen two guns and credit cards, as well as a 2003 GMC Sierra pickup.
The truck has “Tate Engineering” written on both doors and is black with Idaho plates K462722.
Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters do not have to leave their name to collect a reward but should lave a code name or number.
Federal investigators are attempting to seize an Arizona property owned by Spokane real estate investors as part of a broader probe into alleged fraud by the couple, who are tangled in the complicated ownership of the former Ridpath Hotel complex.
FBI agent Lisa Jangaard filed a request last week to seize an office building in Sun Lakes, Ariz., a suburb of Phoenix. According to court files, Greg Jeffreys and his wife, Kimberly Jeffreys, obtained $600,000 from an investor as partial payment for the purchase of an upscale office building in San Francisco.
Spokane County Sheriff's detectives are looking for victims of unreported burglaries in the Spokane Valley area that may be connected to a trio of suspects arrested last week.
Victims of burglaries between June 21 and Aug. 1 are asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233, the sheriff's office said today.
Marina Florianovich, 24, Vyacheslav Znovets, 20, and Michael Mendez, 20, are accused of burglaries that occurred mostly in the area south of East Sprague Avenue. They drove a black 1997 BMW with blue rims in nearly every burglary, most of which occurred during the day.
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 last Thursday.
Detectives located several thousands of dollars worth of jewelry stolen in the burglaries. Among the stolen items believed to be connected to the suspects is a Michael Jordan rookie card valued at $2,500, according to court documents.
Two suspected car thieves tried to steal a vehicle from a stranger outside a north Spokane restaurant, police say.
Bennie Lee Carson, 31, and Charles A. Nickens, 27, followed the man north on North Division Street and confronted him when he pulled into the McDonald's parking lot at Division and East Heroy Avenue about 7:15 a.m. on June 27, according to police.
The victim said one of the men reached into his waistband as he approached and made it appear as though he had a firearm. The other man told the victim “he liked his rims and wanted his keys so he could drive his car.”
Wright refused and “aggressively walked past” the men and into McDonald's, where he called police. A friend who was to meet the victim at the McDonald's that morning witnessed the incident an through the men were perhaps confronting him over a driving dispute.
The victim's friend is an Avista meter reader who said he considered using his “dog stick” meter reader to stop an assault should it occur, according to court documents.
Police found the car in the Shadle Park Wal-Mart later that day. One of the occupants said she got the car from a man named Bennie, “a car thief who steals and traffics in stolen vehicles,” police wrote.
Carson and Nickens were charged last week with second-degree robbery and possession of a stolen motor vehicle - police say they car they followed the victim in was stolen.
Carson also faces possession of stolen motor vehicle charges for cars found at his home at 2415 E. 1st Ave., where police believes he strips stolen vehicles, in June when police responded to a report that he was assaulting his girlfriend. The home also was the target of a SWAT team heroin bust in March.
Carson was arrested on car theft charges July 1. Nickens also was arrested last month and has been in jail since. Prosecutors filed charges for the attempted robbery on Aug. 2.
A 28-year-old man and a 17-year-old runaway linked by police to check thefts in Coeur d'Alene are in custody.
Michael Graham Wilkins and Lacey Lynn Fugate were arrested at the Lake Drive Motel, 316 E. Coeur d'Alene Lake Drive, Friday about 6:30 p.m. after detectives received a tip that they were there, Coeur d'Alene police said today.
Police found property purchased with stolen credit cards and checks in the motel room, including a printer and package of blank checks purchased online.
Officers arrested Wilkins and Fugate on warrants out of Douglas County, Oregon, where Roseburg is.
They face new charges of grand theft and burglary in Kootenai County.
Don Arndt never thought he'd see his Honda XL 250 motorcycle again after it was stolen from the backyard of his house in 1975 when Arndt was 25. Now 62, he received a call from the Washington State Patrol Thursday that his bike had been recovered. (SRPhoto/Colin Mulvany)
When Don Arndt’s motorcycle was stolen from the backyard of his old Spokane Valley home in 1975, he quickly lost hope of ever seeing it, but he never gave up his endorsement to ride.
He hasn’t been on a bike since, but he’d recently been thinking about buying a new one and rekindling an old hobby. Now an unexpected reunion has put Arndt in the driver’s seat sooner than expected. And it’s a familiar one.
A 28-year-old Coeur d'Alene man and a 17-year-old runaway from Oregon are suspected of stealing checks from mailboxes in the Lake City.
Michael Graham Wilkins and Lacey Lynn Fugate are suspected of stealing two checks from a business' mailbox in the 100 block of East Locust Avenue around July 28, police said Thursday.
Police released their photos Thursday, along with a photo of an tattoo on Wilkins' right arm.
Wilkins is accused of adding his name to the checks and cashing them at Safeway.
An employee told police he cashes checks there recently.
A warrant has been issued for Wilkins' arrest. Fugate is a runaway from Douglas County, Oregon.
Anyone with information on their location is asked to call the Coeur d'Alene Police Department at (208) 769-2320.
Thieves stole a a credit card from a car near Sanders Beach in Coeur d'Alene last week, then used it to rack up $185 in charges at Walgreens.
Surveillance photos from Walgreens released on Thursday show a man and two women, and police are looking for tips on their identities.
A photo of their vehicle also is included. The victim told police he'd left his wallet in his unlocked car in the 900 block of East Young Avenue on July 26.
The vehicle was secure between midnight and 4 a.m. That's when the owner got a call from Citi Bank reporting fraudulent activity on his credit card and discovered his car had been prowled.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Coeur d'Alene Police Department at (208) 769-2320.
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.
Police are trying to identify a man who headbutted a WalMart cashier while shoplifting last week.
An image from a surveillance video shows the man at the store on East Broadway Avenue in Spokane Valley.
A cashier told police he approached the man when he saw him walking toward the west exit with a large bulge in his sweatshirt about 12:45 a.m. July 24.
The man tried to exit, but the doors were locked, so he headbutted the cashier and escaped through a fire exit, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office. The thief dropped stolen items in the process.
The Sheriff''s Office released the surveillance photo today in hopes someone will recognize the man.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Jack Rosenthal at (509) 220-6424 or at (509) 477-3186.
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.
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.
A federal jury convicted a Spokane man of 20 felonies Thursday for a scheme that cost a Coeur d'Alene woman her high-end riverside home.
Samuel Thomas Geren Jones, 31, faces up to 20 years in prison for each of 19 wire fraud counts when he's sentenced Oct. 5, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. He's allowed to stay out of jail until sentencing.
Jones was convicted of the wire fraud and one count of interstate transportation in aid of racketeering enterprises after a seven-day trial in U.S. District Court.
Jones' co-defendant, Travis “T.J.” Sneed, a former Washington legislative candidate and aide to Jim West, was sentenced last August to about five years in prison.
Sneed, (pictured) who had solicited fraudulent letters of support to present at his sentencing, also is to be on probation for three years, perform 320 hours of community service and pay about $732,000 in restitution. That’s the amount of money loaned to Sneed using victim Dawn Forest’s home as collateral.
“I’ll never see any of it,” Forest said at Sneed's sentencing.
Sneed, 29, is serving his 63-month sentence at a federal prison in Colordao. He testified at Jones' trial.
The scheme developed when Forest allowed Sneed and Jones, who were in a romantic relationship, to live in the basement of her home on South Canal Street along the Spokane River and take out a loan on her mortgage. Forest said she learned her home was being foreclosed by reading the newspaper. Sneed and Jones also bilked three people of about $165,000 by selling them products via the Internet that they never received.
Jones and Sneed were indicted in July 2010.
“This jury's verdict sends the strong message that those who bilk trusting investors will be caught and punished,” Wendy Olson, U.S. Attorney for Idaho, said in a prepared statement. “In these difficult economic times, fraud schemes pose an even greater threat to our communities. I commend the hard and thorough work of FBI Special Agent Bryant Gunnerson, prosecutor Nancy Cook and the many others who brought these two men to justice.”