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

Deputies arrest five at car dealership after gas stolen from vehicles

A drill and gas cans under a vehicle at the Lithia car dealership, at 107 N. Newport Hwy.  (Courtesy of Spokane County Sheriff's Office)

Spokane deputies arrested five people Tuesday after “catching two in the act of stealing gas from a drilled gas tank” at a car dealership on North Newport Highway, the sheriff’s office said in a release.

Ten vehicles were found to have received a total of $10,000 in damage at the time of the arrests.

Surveillance cameras spotted two men dressed in black walking around cars at the Lithia car dealership, 107 N. Newport Highway, and trying to open door handles at about 1:10 a.m., the sheriff’s office said.

Deputies spotted flashlights at the southwest corner of the lot and could smell a strong gasoline scent as they approached on foot. They discovered one man lying under a vehicle and another standing toward the rear. They also saw a drill and three gas cans with fuel flowing into one of them.

A Honda with a juvenile female driver and two other occupants attempted to flee. The vehicle stalled as deputies commanded the driver to unlock the doors and get out of the vehicle.

“Instead of complying, she chose to try and restart the vehicle,” the sheriff’s office release said. “Not wanting the car to flee with the three suspects inside, deputies broke the window, reached in, and attempted to unlock the vehicle from the inside, but the driver got the car running and began revving the engine.”

A man in the backseat, who the sheriff’s office identified as 26-year-old Vincent M. R. Stevens, reached forward and put the vehicle into gear, yelling “Gas! Gas! Gas!”

The vehicle drove 30 to 40 feet before stalling again.

Two deputies received minor cuts and scrapes from the vehicle.

A patrol car blocking their escape also sustained minor damage when the Honda hit it.

Johnathan L. Schroeder, 20, was arrested on suspicion of first-degree malicious mischief, third-degree theft from a motor vehicle, and making false statements; Stevens was arrested on suspicion of first-degree malicious mischief and third-degree assault; and Serena R. Wright, 19, was arrested on suspicion of first-degree malicious mischief.

Two juveniles, an unnamed male and female, were arrested on suspicion of first-degree malicious mischief, second-degree theft from a motor vehicle, and attempting to elude a police vehicle.