Burglary/Theft Suspect Arrested, Released on “Own Recognizance” Approximately 14-Hours Later
Spokane Valley Deputies located and arrested a burglary suspect, charging him with two felonies (Burglary/Theft 2nd Degree) and five misdemeanor charges. They could also see what was estimated to be $3,000.00 or more in what appeared to be stolen tools/work equipment inside the suspect’s vehicle, which was seized as evidence pending a search warrant. Approximately 14-hours later, the suspect was released back into the community on his own recognizance by the courts.
Continuing the investigation, Detectives learned the suspect has an extensive pawn history and noted a similar burglary at the same location in February 2022. After obtaining a search warrant, investigators recovered over an estimated $20,000 worth of stolen tools from the suspect’s SUV. With this new information, and since the suspect had already been released, Detectives requested that the Theft 2nd Degree charge be amended to Theft 1st Degree. After identifying a second victim, an additional charge of Theft 1st Degree was requested.
On March 15, 2022, at approximately 1:20 am., Spokane Valley Deputy Josiah Loos responded to a suspicious call/possible burglary in the 400 block of S. Dishman Mica Road.
The caller, a Security Officer, reported a dark-colored SUV was in the parking lot, and it appeared two subjects were outside the vehicle with flashlights.
Deputy Loos arrived and located a 2002 Mercury Mountaineer in the dark, northeastern portion of the lot. He exited his patrol car, started to walk toward the vehicle, and noticed that the driver’s door was open and an adult male in dark clothing was running away toward the north.
Deputy Loos advised additional patrol units were needed to the north of his location. He checked the SUV and found it was unoccupied. During a check of the immediate area, no one else was located. Deputy Loos did find an approximate 36” wide by 24” tall hole cut in the chain-link fence, topped with barbed wire. Several work vehicles inside the fenced area appeared to have been entered, and he noted a large assortment of tools, tool chests, an air compressor, or a welder that could clearly be seen in the back of the Mercury.
A short time later, Deputy Trevor Ball advised he was contacting a male in dark clothing who appeared out of breath and was looking over his shoulder, back toward Deputy Loos’ location. Deputy Ball contacted the male and detained him. He was identified as 33-year-old Jacob L. Owens, and he had a flashlight in his coat pocket.
As the investigation continued, Deputy Loos spoke with Owens, who had been informed of his rights. Owens stated he jumped the fence (would not admit to cutting the hole) and began rummaging through the work vehicles, taking several tools and putting them in the Mercury, which he said belongs to a family member.
At the time, without a search warrant, Deputy Loos could not legally enter the vehicle to assess the value of the tools. From what he could clearly see from the outside, he estimated the value at approximately $3,000.
Owens was transported to the Spokane County Jail, where he was booked for Burglary 2nd Degree, Theft 2nd Degree, three counts of Vehicle Prowling 2nd Degree, Malicious Mischief 3rd Degree, and Criminal Trespass 2nd Degree. He was released on his “own recognizance” approximately 14-hours later by the courts.
The vehicle was seized as evidence pending a search warrant.
On March 15, 2022, Spokane Valley Investigative Unit Detective John Oliphant began working on the investigation and learned the victim business reported a similar burglary. He also learned Owens was a former employee of the victim from several years ago. The owner made it clear, Owens has no association with the business, which had been burglarized a couple of times over the last few months, and that he suspected Owens.
A search warrant was obtained, and SVIU Detectives located a large amount of stolen tools/equipment, totaling approximately $20,000. As the investigation continued, Detective Oliphant learned some of the stolen tools belonged to the victim business, and some belonged to one of the employees, making him a victim as well.
With Owens already released from jail, SVIU Detective Oliphant recommended the original charge of Theft 2nd Degree be upgraded to Theft 1st Degree and an additional charge of Theft 1st Degree be added for the second identified victim.