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Gas Theft Nets South Hill Burglary Arrests and more...

Posted 4/20/2012 2:22 PM by MDGREGORY

On April 17th, 2012, Spokane Valley Sheriff's deputies responded to a call of a gas drive off at 411 N Pines. A description of the van in the drive off was given and the van was located by Deputy Rick Johnson near Mission and Woodward. Deputy Johnson found the vehicle being driven by 30 year-old Bojan Derzic who had a suspended driver’s license and admitted to the gas theft. Also in the car were 50 year-old Susan Burke and 27 year-old Denis Buljubasic.

While investigating the gas theft, Spokane Valley Sgt. Dave Martin recognized the color of the van listed on the registration did not match the color of the van the plates were on. A check of the VIN confirmed the van had been reported stolen in November 2011 in Liberty Lake. Deputies also found Derzic and Burke to be in possession of checks in names other than theirs. Burke had an outstanding felony warrant for her arrest from the Moses Lake area. The vehicle was impounded for a search warrant and Burke and Derzic were brought to the Spokane Valley Precinct for questioning by detectives, who are working as part of the Sheriff’s Burglary Task Force. Buljubasic was released at the scene.

After extensive questioning of both suspects, it was determined they had stolen checks from a garage on the South Hill and had been forging the checks and depositing them in several local banks. They used the proceeds to buy methamphetamine and gamble at Northern Quest Casino in Airway Heights. Detectives checked pawn histories from all suspects and were able to link them to multiple other garage burglaries on the South Hill, Airway Heights, and in the Otis Orchards area. The suspects also directed detectives to a Toyota truck that had been stolen a week earlier in north Spokane and dumped near Broadway and Madelia by the suspects. The vehicle was recovered by the Spokane Police Department. That evening Burke was booked on her warrant and Derzic was booked for one count of forgery as detectives looked to confirm reports where Derzic confessed to doing as many as 10-15 burglaries in recent months.

Spokane Valley detectives then contacted officers from the Spokane Police Department’s PACT team and advised they had probable cause to arrest Denis Buljabasic for his involvement in the South Hill burglaries. The PACT team had been investigating a rash of burglaries in apartment building garages on the South Hill over the last several months and it appeared Derzic and Buljabasic were involved, if not entirely responsible for them.

On April 19th, 2012, the PACT team located Denis Buljabasic in a vehicle parked at Wal-Mart in Airway Heights. The vehicle was being driven by Dwayne Gunderson and also was occupied by Bojan Derzic, who had been released from custody just hours before on his forgery charge. The Sheriff’s Office Criminal Interdiction Team assisted at Wal-Mart and Derzic and Buljabasic were arrested on Spokane Valley detective’s probable cause for Burglary 2nd Degree charges. They were brought to the Spokane Valley precinct for questioning. The CIT team also seized the vehicle the suspects were in pursuant to a search warrant by the detectives.

After further questioning by detectives, both suspects admitted to multiple burglaries and other crimes. Derzic was also found to be in possession of methamphetamine at the time of his arrest. Derzic was booked on 5 counts of Burglary 2nd Degree and PCS methamphetamine, and Buljabasic for 2 counts of Burglary 2nd Degree.

Detectives anticipate multiple other charges of Burglary, Forgery, Possession of a Stolen Vehicles, Theft, Trafficking Stolen Property, and Possession of Controlled Substances, will follow for all of the suspects once search warrants are executed on the two seized vehicles and the investigation is completed.

Spokane Valley Sheriff's detectives noted several burglaries they have solved were un-reported by the victims. This serves as a reminder that Sheriff's investigators have a very difficult time solving crimes that are not reported in the first place and often the result is items stolen not being returned to their rightful owners. So far in this investigation all stolen items recovered have been returned to their owners, or the owners of the items have been identified.

Information about this Spokane Sheriff News story is also available at