‘They can get away with it’: 14-time convicted felon arrested for car theft while awaiting trial

Spokane Police say a man was arrested for possessing a stolen car last week — while he was already awaiting trial for the same crime.

It’s definitely not the first time Daniel Wessels has had a run-in with the cops. Wessels, a 14-time convicted felon, has been arrested 58 times and police say eleven of those arrests relate to stolen vehicles.

The latest came last Thursday, when police found Wessels behind the wheel of a car that was originally stolen back in August.

READ: ‘I always run from you guys’: Serial Spokane car thief arrested for the 58th time

Mercedes Calkins, who lives in Northwest Spokane, says Wessels stole her car months before that.

“He’s just got away with another crime and we’re out everything,” said Calkins. “Thousands of dollars put into a car to get, I think it was $46 out of scrap in the end.”

Court documents say Wessels stole Calkins’ car from the alley behind her home back in April. But it wasn’t just any car. She and her husband hoped their son would drive it one day.

“I mean, we had the car itself for years. It was just, you know, buying everything,” Calkins told 4 News Now. “With three kids, you can’t buy that kind of stuff just on a whim or at your leisure.”

Police say Wessels upgraded his own car with parts stolen from Calkins’ car.

“He was driving around with our wheels, our seats installed in his car, our carpet installed in the car,” Calkins said. “We got our wheels back, we got pieces of our car, but not the car, not the money, not the time — not the bulk of the expenses that were put into it.”

Ofc. John O’Brien with the Spokane Police Department told 4 News Now he doesn’t expect Wessels to stop stealing cars anytime soon.

“That’s what he does when he’s not incarcerated,” O’Brien said.

That’s been the pattern over the last 15 years. When asked who could do something about this, O’Brien mentioned the court system, but said he couldn’t speak to the legal aspect of this pattern.

Court documents show Wessels has taken plea deals over the years, pleading guilty to a lesser charge with a shorter sentence — so the cycle starts over again, to the frustration of people like Calkins.

“There needs to be something done. People stealing stuff, and they’re getting away with it — you steal a car, you get out within a week and nothing ever comes about it. It’s ridiculous. And people do these things because they can get away with it,” Calkins said. “This guy does this for a career. He’s never gonna pay you back. And so, knowing that, it’s just frustrating that somebody could just be a loser on the streets and get away with whatever they want — making money how they want. But hurting everyone around them.”