Spokane Valley property crimes detectives have had an awesome autumn as they have identified and charged numerous criminal suspects involved in multiple property-crime sprees.
In mid-September, a rash of vehicle prowlings involving Ford trucks began to occur in Spokane Valley parking lots. Several vehicles were prowled at stores that had security video and multiple suspects were associated with a green Chevrolet Suburban with a temporary license plate in the back window. Photos were distributed to local law enforcement agencies and the media, but the prowlings continued.
Detective Mark Renz worked with other detectives to identify the vehicle or to track any of the stolen property to local pawn shops. Using Dept. of Licensing records, he obtained a list of all green Suburbans sold in the past 30 days. He noted the name of Peter Harras on the list. Coincidentally, a victim located an item of his stolen property that same day – pawned by Harras. Renz began scrutinizing Harras’ extensive pawn history and was able to tie numerous items of property that he pawned the same day they were stolen.
Renz found Harras living with his girlfriend in the City of Spokane and arrested him. He executed a search warrant on the home and recovered more than $10,000 in stolen property. The evidence linked Harras and another suspect to more than two dozen vehicle prowlings in the greater Spokane area. The accomplice will be charged by affidavit.
A second case developed when a burglar broke into a Spokane Valley home and stole a laptop, identification, cash and tools. The resident discovered the burglary shortly after it occurred. Not long after he made the report, employees of a car wash noticed a man dumping items into their dumpster. He sped off when they attempted to confront him, but left identification and financial information belonging to the burglary victim. Officers obtained security video of the suspect and his truck and circulated it to local law enforcement and media.
About a week later, Spokane Police Detective Elise Robertson located the truck at a home in Spokane. She received no response at the door, but forwarded the address. Officer Brian Hirzel contacted the truck’s owner and developed 39-year-old Amy C. Jackson, aka Adams, as the burglar. He is currently seeking her on felony charges of Residential Burglary, Unlawful Possession of a Payment Instrument, Second-Degree Possession of Stolen Property and Identity Theft.
On October 7th, Detective Roger Knight began investigating a rash of residential burglaries in the Ponderosa neighborhood. He had read a few reports in his district, but was unaware of numerous burglaries that had occurred in unincorporated Spokane County just outside of Spokane Valley.
Deputy Tom Walker asked about the burglary spree and the two were able to determine that about a dozen burglaries had been committed over five months that featured the same method of operation. Michael G. Mendez, 20, was quickly identified as a suspect using pawn records and his pawn history tied him to the burglaries. Mendez was arrested that afternoon and confessed to more than five of the break-ins. He identified two juveniles as accomplices, and said he had acted as a lookout for the two for a time as well. Mendez was booked into jail on counts of Residential Burglary and First-Degree Trespass.
The investigators executed a search warrant at his home as well as the home of the juveniles. Large quantities of stolen electronics, jewelry and gaming systems were recovered. The juveniles both confessed to helping Mendez commit burglaries and also confessed to burglarizing a storage garage in their apartment complex where a pistol and motorcycle were stolen. The motorcycle has been recovered, but not the pistol. The two juveniles and an associate of Mendez now face burglary charges as well.
Detective Jeff Welton developed an informant in a burglary/leading organized crime case he was working. During the course of developing several suspects, one stole a car from a valley apartment complex. Welton was able to locate the suspect. He confessed to the theft, but said he provided the car to a Repeat Offender suspect. Welton learned that the car had been taken to a home in Davenport, Washington where the suspect planned to “chop” it. The detective wrote and executed a search warrant. In addition to the partially-dismantled stolen vehicle, Welton recovered methamphetamine and hydrocodone. Both men now face felony property and drug charges.
October 20, 2011