TONASKET – An burglar’s attempt to steal fishing gear, optics, knives and more from Scholz Sporting Goods in Tonasket ended in failure as Tonasket Police apprehended the suspect on Friday, Sept. 10, after a brief on-foot chase down Western Avenue.
“We got the call early Friday morning that someone had broken out the front glass door,” said Tonasket Police Chief Rob Burks. “Officer Preston Ray responded, when he got there he called out and ID’d himself as Tonasket Police. And there was the guy just standing there.”
The suspect tried to escape out the back door with Ray in pursuit, which he had also previously smashed, and while carrying a backpack filled with stolen items tripped and fell, thereby ending the chase.
Though all of the stolen items were recovered, the would-be burglar caused plenty of damage in the store. He apparently cut himself while smashing the glass doors, and Aaron Kester, Lee Franks Ace Hardware and Scholz Sporting Goods manager, noted that he tried to cover his tracks by splashing peroxide and alcohol on blood stains left throughout the store.
“We think he broke back door, went over to Grant’s, grabbed a box, came back in through the window and started gathering stuff up,” Kester said a few days later as he was taking inventory for his insurance claim. “He was bleeding all over the guns, tried to get into the cash box. There were drops of blood and footprints in blood all over teh floor.
“He grabbed peroxide and and alchohol off the shelf here and opens that up and starts splashing it on stuff, to like cover the blood. I think he watched too much CSI.”
Kester said that, in addition to what the suspect had stuffed into a stolen backpack more fishing reels, knives, and ammunition were staged near the back entrance.
“The pellets he grabbed, we don’t even sell the gun to go with it,” Kester said. “They wouldn’t go in the gun he stole. We only sell those because there are people around here that use it.”
The burglar damaged a number of display cases, as well as kicking in a dressing room door for no apparent reason, Kester said.
“We are very appreciative to the (911) caller,” Manager Stacey Kester said. “And the swift response of the Tonasket Police, especially Officer Ray.”
Burks said the suspect was charged with first degree burglary, second degree theft, and a pair of third degree malicious mischief charges.
There had been a number of other incidents in the neighborhood over night, including phone lines pulled out at the American Legion building and plants pulled up in front of the pharmacy.
“As far as anything else,” said Burks, “he said he couldn’t remember where he was or what he’d been doing overnight.”
That, and the fact that the break-in occurred between 6:00 and 6:30 a.m. on a weekday in full view of Whitcomb Avenue, had Burks thinking there was more than just a desire for free sporting goods in play.
“We had suspicions that he might have been under the influence of something, just by the way he was acting,” Burks said.
“We recovered everything, but obviously there was some stuff damaged,” Aaron Kester said. “We just want to thank the police for their response. They kept it from being a lot worse than it was.”