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

Thieves in a fur coat and a cowboy hat rappelled into Spokane car dealership, stole 8 cars

Employees at Northtown Auto Sales came to work Tuesday morning to find eight cars missing from their lot and a rope hanging down from a giant hole in their office ceiling.

Sales Manager Johnny Arrotta said when employees checked the security footage, it showed two thieves appearing from a hole in the ceiling and rappelling into the office around 2 a.m. “like out of a movie.” One was wearing a mask and a knee-length fur coat – “a pimp coat,” as he described it – and the other was in a straw cowboy hat. The two operated without tripping the alarm.

Just four months prior, Arrotta said they had another break-in that police believe was the same person. The suspect came in through the roof, walked through an office door that tripped the alarm and threw a rock through the window to escape.

“Like a test run,” Arrotta said. “He already knew if he opened that door, the alarm would go off. That’s why he brought the rope.”

Fran Anunar, 19, was arrested Wednesday morning in connection to the incident on suspicion of theft of a vehicle and second-degree burglary. According to court records, he has been charged or arrested multiple times this year for burglaries. Just last month, he pleaded guilty to residential burglary involving another auto shop and was sentenced to 12 months of community custody under the supervision of the Washington Department of Corrections.

Heran Linfield, 20, was also arrested in connection with the thefts, and charges are pending against a third suspect, Spokane police said in a news release.

The thieves who rappelled into Northtown Auto Sales snatched keys to the cars that are normally located in the front on a board. At night, the keys are locked up in the same office they broke into.

They went on to steal eight cars, some of them worth $30,000. Three BMWs, two Mercedes, a Nissan Titan and more were gone from the lot. Arrotta said the suspects got in a mini-van after the break-in, drove north and came back with some friends, where they spent hours stealing more cars.

Fortunately, Arrotta said, police have “been finding cars all day.” As of Wednesday afternoon, the dealership had most of their cars back.

Arrotta said they were notified that police made arrests Wednesday, including, “the same guy that was wearing the straw hat.” He said law enforcement recognized the suspect because he was wearing the same outfit he had on during the burglary.

“A guy and a girl tried running from them,” Arrotta said. “She had one of the keys to one of the (cars) in her purse.”

Arrotta said their building, 3817 N. Division St., used to be a restaurant – so it’s likely the thieves climbed through an old vent in the ceiling.

The office where the thieves broke in had a camera, but to the employees’ dismay, it was unplugged at the time.

More cameras in the office were installed Tuesday. And, the hole where they repelled down from is plugged up.

Anunar’s first appearance in court was scheduled for Wednesday but was continued to Thursday. Spokane police are investigating others believed to be involved.