Deputies Arrest 5 Suspects During Gas Theft Attempt, 10 Gas Tanks Drilled Causing Thousands in Damage
Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputies arrested five suspects, three adults, and two juveniles, for various felony/misdemeanor charges at a car dealership on N. Newport Hwy after catching two in the act of stealing gas from a drilled gas tank. A juvenile female driver attempted to flee the area when contacted by Deputies. Two Deputies received minor cuts/scrapes when they tried to stop her from driving away. A patrol car received minor damage when the suspect hit it as a Deputy blocked her escape. Ten vehicles were found to have been damaged at the time of the arrests.
On October 4, 2022, at approximately 1:10 am, offsite security reported seeing two males dressed in all-black clothing, walking around cars, and trying door handles.
Several Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputies arrived at Lithia Car Dealership, 107 N. Newport Hwy. and approached the vehicles on foot. They observed flashlights in the southwest area of the lot and began moving toward them. A strong odor of gasoline was noted as they approached.
One male was contacted lying under a vehicle, and another was standing toward the rear. A red drill and three gas cans were also observed, and fuel was flowing from the vehicle's gas tank into one of the gas cans. Both suspects were detained.
Additional Deputies contacted a red Honda trying to flee the scene. The Honda stalled as Deputies gave commands for the juvenile female driver to unlock the doors and get out of the vehicle. Instead of complying, she chose to try and restart the vehicle. 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 male suspect seated in the backseat, later identified as 26-year-old Vincent M. R. Stevens, reached forward, placing the vehicle into gear, yelling “Gas! Gas! Gas!”. Deputies, still trying to open the door and remove the driver, disengaged as the vehicle drove forward approximately 30-40 feet and died again. A marked patrol car received minor damage when it was placed in front of the Honda to block its escape.
All three suspects inside the vehicle were safely detained.
The investigation established probable cause to charge all five suspects with various felony and misdemeanor crimes. Ten vehicles were found to have their gas tanks drilled/damaged to remove the fuel, and the estimated damage caused is approximately $10,000.
Depending on their age, the suspects were transported and booked into the Spokane County Jail and Spokane County Detention Center.
20-year-old Johnathan L. Schroeder was charged with felony Malicious Mischief 1st Degree and Theft 3rd Degree from a Motor Vehicle and Making False Statements, both misdemeanors.
26-year-old Vincent M. R. Stevens was charged with felony Malicious Mischief 1st Degree and Assault 3rd Degree.
19-year-old Serena R. Wright was charged with felony Malicious Mischief 1st Degree.
Juvenile female was charged with felony Malicious Mischief 1st Degree, Attempting to Elude a Police Vehicle, and Theft 2nd Degree from a Motor Vehicle.
Juvenile male charged with felony Malicious Mischief 1st Degree and Theft 2nd Degree from a Motor Vehicle.