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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spike strips help stop fuel theft suspect

Richard Lee Trower at the Benewah County Jail in 2008. (Benewah County Sheriff's Office)
A police chase in Spokane early Tuesday ended with the arrest of a man suspected in a series of fuel heists in the Inland Northwest. Richard L. Trower, 37, was driving a stolen Honda Accord when officers used spike strips to flatten the tires during a chase on East Trent Avenue after 2 a.m., according to court documents prepared by Spokane police. Trower was arrested after a cruiser bumped the back of the Honda as he drove on the wheel rims. His passenger, 28-year-old Ambur R. Bay, was arrested on a drug charge. It’s the second arrest in two months for the duo, who police believe may be involved in an interstate fuel theft ring that triggered a massive drug and stolen property investigation by the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office. The investigation began in November when sheriff’s Sgt. John Nowels used a computer database to track what he suspected was a trend in commercial burglaries and fuel thefts. About that same time, Coeur d’Alene police named Trower as a suspect in a string of burglaries in which thieves cut fence locks and siphon fuel from holding tanks. Spokane police detectives believe Trower is an associate of the suspects arrested in a stolen property investigation on March 23, including 36-year-old Cole T. Monson, but Trower has not been charged. Trower and Bay were arrested Feb. 2 after a traffic stop near Howe and Mallon about 2 a.m. Trower was driving a 1989 Chevy S10 pickup with two large fuel tanks in the back, as well as a pump and hose. Detectives believe one of tanks was stolen from Coast Crane, 3920 E. Boone, on Oct. 12, and the other from Cruz, 16707 E. Euclid, on Jan. 26, according to a search warrant. Trower told police he was in the process of buying the truck when he was stopped in February. Another man, Michael D. Sherrard, 50, was arrested while driving the same pickup in November, according to court documents. Trower left jail shortly after his arrest in February on a driving while suspended charge, but he returned early Tuesday after the chase with Spokane police. He’s in Spokane County Jail on $25,000 bail after appearing in Superior Court Tuesday afternoon on charges of possession of stolen motor vehicle and attempting to elude police. Bay was held on $2,500 bail for drugs police say they found during the stop. Trower has an extensive criminal history, including a 2007 conviction in Spokane County for attempting to elude police.