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Thursday, April 2, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Footprints in snow lead deputies to Medical Lake car prowling suspect

UPDATED: Tue., Jan. 21, 2020

From staff reports

After a Spokane County Sheriff’s deputy gave a man a verbal warning for a pedestrian violation in Medical Lake on Jan. 13, another deputy followed the man’s footprints in the snow to where deputies believe he tried to break into eight cars.

The deputy who warned Joseph B. Thornton, 27, around 4 a.m. near Grace and Broad streets found several locations within a half mile where it appeared Thornton’s footprints led to the side of vehicles shielded from view of nearby homes, according to a news release. The car door handles the footprints led to were devoid of snow, as if someone had attempted to open them.

Two other deputies detained Thornton, who shook his head when the deputy explained how he followed his footprints to eight cars, according to a news release. Thornton has been convicted of vehicle prowling, theft and trespassing.

A deputy contacted the owner of one of the vehicles who wanted to press charges, and Thornton was later booked into Spokane County Jail, according to a news release.

Three days later, the same deputy responded to the Petro Station at 10510 W. Aero Road on the West Plains for a report of a person asleep in a TV room with needles in his pocket, according to a news release. The deputy recognized the man as Thornton and he found he had an active warrant for vehicle prowling in Cheney.

Thornton was arrested and remains jailed at Geiger Corrections Center.

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