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Saturday, June 15, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Wilbur man gets 11 years in federal prison for stalking woman with GPS devices

UPDATED: Thu., May 23, 2019, 7:50 p.m.

A convicted felon from Wilbur has been sentenced to more than 11 years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to illegally possessing firearms and placing GPS devices on his former lover’s vehicles to stalk her.

U.S. District Court Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson sentenced Thomas M. Roberts, 52, of Wilbur, to 137 months in prison on Wednesday after Roberts pleaded guilty in 2018 to three federal charges.

“This case sends a clear message that the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington and our federal, state and local law enforcement partners are firmly committed to protecting the public and aggressively pursuing individuals who engage in cyberstalking and the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition,” U.S. Attorney Joseph Harrington said in a news release.

According to court records, the woman, who had filed multiple domestic violence no-contact orders against Roberts, discovered on April 19, 2015, that someone had placed GPS tracking devices on her vehicles.

She notified the Wilbur Police Department and an officer took one of the devices to the police station. The officer also set up a trail camera to monitor the second vehicle.

“Later that evening, or in the early morning hours the next day, the police station was burglarized and the GPS device and a Taser were stolen,” court records state.

An officer then checked the trail camera and discovered an image of a person wearing a hooded sweatshirt that obscured his face. The man in the sweatshirt was seen taking the second GPS device from the woman’s car on April 21, 2015.

Investigators then obtained a search warrant for Roberts’ home and discovered a .270-caliber rifle, a magazine and multiple rounds of ammunition. Execution of a second search warrant at his mother’s home revealed a sawed-off shotgun, nine other firearms, 5,500 rounds of ammunition and the sales receipt for two GPS tracking devices that were purchased in 2014.

Roberts was prohibited from possessing firearms because of his prior convictions for second-degree assault, harassment – threats to kill, residential burglary and first-degree burglary, according to court records.

The woman told investigators she suspected Roberts had been using some sort of electronic device to stalk her because he continually showed up at stores where she was shopping and had also sent texts indicating that he knew what she was doing.

On the day she discovered the devices, the woman told police she was shopping at a Safeway in Grand Coulee when she got a text from Roberts. “Hey I could use a half gallon of milk while you are there. Bye bye. and I’m not going to hurt you.”

The woman, who had last dated Roberts in 2011, told a detective about another time when she went to Davenport to get her boat out of storage. While there, she received a text from Roberts telling her that he could see that she was about to go have some fun.

The woman said she recently had taken her son shopping in Spokane and Roberts showed up at three stores that she and her son visited, court records state.

During the search of Roberts’ home, the detective found Roberts had been paying SpyHawkTracking.com a monthly fee to keep track of the victim. The electronic readouts showed the locations of her vehicles that the detective was able to correlate with the text message threats sent to the victim.

“(The woman) broke down in tears several times” when speaking to a police sergeant, according to charging documents, “from being mentally and physically exhausted from living in fear of the defendant and the constant harassment.”

Following the investigation, Roberts pleaded guilty last June to illegal possession of a firearm, possession of an unregistered firearm and cyberstalking.

“I commend the law enforcement officers of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office and Wilbur Police Department who investigated this case,” Harrington said.

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