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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Sirens & Gavels

Felon suspected of pepper spraying theft victim

A man accused of stealing another man's cellphone in north Spokane and spraying the theft victim's face with pepper spray called police soon after the incident to report he was being followed, court records say.

Randy S. Vanderveer, 34, appeared in court Tuesday facing charges of second-degree theft and third-degree assault.

The victim reported to police that he set his smartphone on the counter in the Zip Trip gas station at 1503 E. Illinois shortly before 10:30 a.m. Monday. He noticed his phone was gone shortly after Vanderveer left and followed Vanderveer, asking for his phone back.

Vanderveer denied having the phone and then pepper sprayed the victim in the face, according to court documents. He reportedly told police he did it because the victim was following him and he was “big.”

Vanderveer, who is a fairly big man himself, then called 911 to report that he was being followed.

Police determined that footage from video surveillance cameras in the Zip Trip showed Vanderveer taking the phone, according to court records. The phone was recovered.

Vanderveer was ordered held in the Spokane County Jail on $5,000 bond. He has a lengthy criminal record that includes four felony convictions and 10 misdemeanor convictions. His most recent conviction was for criminal mischief in October.

Nina Culver
Nina Culver is a freelancer for The Spokesman-Review's daily newspaper and weekly Voice sections.

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