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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

‘Open’ 911 call leads to arrest of man accused of trying to steal car, holding man against his will

UPDATED: Sat., April 9, 2022

Recovered items, including an air pistol, are shown. They were allegedly found in the possession of Christopher S. Benefield, who was arrested on suspicion of unlawful imprisonment, attempted car theft and harassment Wednesday in Spokane Valley.   (Courtesy of Spokane County Sheriff's Office)
Recovered items, including an air pistol, are shown. They were allegedly found in the possession of Christopher S. Benefield, who was arrested on suspicion of unlawful imprisonment, attempted car theft and harassment Wednesday in Spokane Valley.  (Courtesy of Spokane County Sheriff's Office)

A man is accused of trying to steal another man’s vehicle and holding the person against his will Wednesday in Spokane Valley. Deputies said the victim’s repeated “open” 911 calls while in captivity helped them catch the suspect.

Deputies found Christopher S. Benefield, 40, in shrubbery and arrested him on suspicion of unlawful imprisonment, attempted theft of a motor vehicle and misdemeanor harassment, according to a Spokane County Sheriff’s Office news release. Benefield was still in the Spokane County Jail Saturday night with a $5,000 bond.

Spokane Valley deputies responded to a “trouble unknown call” around 12:10 p.m. Wednesday at an apartment on the 15700 block of East Sprague Avenue, deputies said. 911 call-takers received several “open” 911 calls from the same number. Voices could be heard during the calls, but no one was directly talking into the phone.

The victim, who was uninjured, told one deputy at the apartment complex that Benefield tried to steal his vehicle before running east and jumping over a fence, deputies said. They said they learned Benefield and another male stopped the victim from leaving an apartment unit at the complex because they believed the victim had stolen another person’s wallet. The victim denied taking the wallet, but the suspects allegedly told him he had to stay where he was until the owner of the wallet arrived.

While they blocked any escape routes, the suspects reportedly “brandished air-powered pistols while explaining the pistol’s capabilities,” the release said.

As they waited, a friend of the victim arrived at the apartment and coaxed the victim past the suspects and outside. Once free, the victim fled and called 911 again .

With the help of a K-9 unit, deputies quickly located Benefield hiding in shrubs in the apartment complex near where the alleged crimes happened. He was arrested without incident. An air pistol and a set of keys, later determined to be the victim’s car keys, were found in his possession.

The second suspect has not been located, but deputies said they know his identity. The incident is under investigation.

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