Two 21-year-olds were accused Thursday in a string of 40 Green Bluff burglaries.
Trever J. Burzic and Damian A. Zowal face 201 felonies after sheriff’s officials say they broke into rural homes while no one was home to steal $100,000 worth of guns and jewelry to fuel a drug habit.
It took investigators with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office three months to make a case. The two young men were identified as suspects after residents reported the uptick in burglaries starting in late July, Sheriff’s Lt. John Nowles said.
The two knocked on doors and broke in after making sure no one was home, officials say.
The charges include burglary, firearm theft, trafficking in stolen property and drug possession.
Deputies first arrested the men Sept. 5 on suspicion of two burglaries. Both are in jail.
Members of the county’s Investigative Task Force have been working since then to link the men to other burglaries in north Spokane County.
Nowles said the men reported they brought firearms into homes they were intending to burglarize, knowing they might encounter an armed homeowner.
“These were very dangerous young men” who committed crimes to pay for an addiction to Oxycontin, he said.
Burzic sold stolen firearms at pawn shops, Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said.
The two men are responsible for about 25 percent of the county’s home burglaries so far this year, and also committed burglaries in Stevens and Pend Oreille counties, Knezovich said.
Investigators say the men may be involved in more than the 40 burglaries they are accused of, and are continuing their investigation.
The case, Knezovich said, shows the need for the judicial system to take property crime seriously, especially since the suspects seemed prepared for an armed confrontation with a homeowner.
“We have a property crimes issue because we’re not holding property crimes suspects accountable for their actions,” he said. Short sentences for nonviolent offenders, often the result of jail overcrowding, “send a message that there is no accountability.”
The charges follow the reported break up by law enforcement of two other theft and burglary rings this week. Spokane County filed charges on Monday against seven people accused of a vehicle prowling spree from Liberty Lake to Spokane International Airport this past spring, and Spokane police arrested six individuals last weekend in connection with more than 45 reported burglaries on the South Hill.
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