SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - Spokane Valley Police are crediting an alert citizen armed with a with a cellphone camera with helping shut down a sophisticated stolen property ring.
A Spokane Valley resident thought it was odd when he saw two men parked outside the now closed Painted Hills Golf Course and took a picture as the men backed up to a storage shed and looked like they were ready to load their trailer with the equipment inside.
"He did a great job, he saw something suspicious and not only did he report that, but he happened to capture a picture of the suspect vehicle," Spokane Valley Police Deputy Mark Gregory said.
Arriving officers found padlocks on the storage unit had been cut and things like power washers and air compressors stolen.
Meanwhile the photo was shared with property crimes investigators at the Spokane Valley Police Department and two weeks later Detective Roger Knight spotted the Toyota 4Runner and trailer at Upriver and Argonne and began tailing the SUV.
"He sees that vehicle that matches that picture identically and turns around and gets patrol officers to stop it and it ended up being the right vehicle it seems," Gregory said.
A subsequent investigation linked the driver of the 4Runner with a group of people who had rented a storage unit with a credit card stolen from a car at a TJ Meenach bridge trail head parking lot. Detectives say the thieves who rented the space where burglarizing other nearby storage units and have now posted the items they recovered on the Spokane County Sheriff's Office Facebook page.
"Detectives did search warrants on both of those vehicles which led back to several storage units, they did search warrants on those and recovered several items of stolen property," Gregory said.
Investigators then learned Jason Brioso is allegedly one of several people renting storage spaces in Spokane Valley and then breaking into the adjoining units. There are now multiple warrants out for Brioso's arrest.