Roundup: Police see rise in car, home break-ins, say to keep doors locked

By Paula Horton, Tri-City HeraldDecember 4, 2012 

Two home break-ins and one attempted burglary in south Richland in the past week have police once again issuing a reminder and warning to residents to keep their homes and valuables secured.

Police are continuing to see a number of car prowls and burglaries around the Meadow Hills neighborhood and the golf course with a common theme -- unlocked homes and cars door that provide easy access to thieves, said Capt. Mike Cobb.

"A lot of it is unlocked doors," he said. "And if they are breaking windows (on cars) it's usually weapons of opportunity, like rocks."

The incidents also are occurring once the sun goes down.

"We had three in the last couple of weeks, but we've had a problem with residential burglaries in south Richland since mid-June," Cobb told the Herald. "We've been focusing a significant amount of resources in that area, but the last one, when it occurred, there were a lot of police officers in the immediate area, and it still happened."

The latest break-in happened sometime between midnight and 8 a.m. Sunday in the 1700 block of Meadow Hills Drive. A suspect entered the home through an open garage door and stole a purse, police said.

There was also a burglary Nov. 25 in the 400 block of Oahu Street, where a suspect went into the house through an unlocked door sometime between midnight and 3 a.m., swiping small electronics and cash.

That same night, an attempted burglary was reported in the 300 block of Wolverine Court, police said. In that incident, the suspect went in through an unlocked sliding glass door but then was scared off after being spotted by a resident, police said.

The suspect likely didn't know the house was occupied, Cobb said.

Car prowls in the area also have resulted in thefts of electronics and a pistol, he said.

There are no suspect descriptions available in any of the incidents.

Cobb said he wouldn't be surprised to learn it's the same person or group of people committing the crimes, but right now, there's nothing to link them together beyond geography and that they're happening when it's dark outside.

Residents should "lock homes, lock cars," and "be vigilant, be observant," he said. Also if anything or anybody suspicious is seen in the neighborhood, Cobb said citizens should call 911, or the non-emergency dispatch number at 628-0333 if they don't feel it's an emergency.

Man arrested for allegedly robbing another man of $5

A 19-year-old Kennewick man was arrested Sunday after allegedly robbing another man of $5.

Kennewick police were called to the area of 1724 W. 45th Ave. around 9 p.m. after Cody Ayers, 18, of Kennewick, reported the robbery, said Sgt. Ken Lattin.

Ayers said he was walking in the area when he was approached by Blake Dalton, who threatened to assault him and demanded money, Lattin said.

Ayers gave Dalton $5.

Dalton reportedly tried to run off when police arrived, but he was quickly caught and arrested.

Dalton was booked into the Benton County jail on suspicion of second-degree robbery and resisting arrest.

Man dies in crash after suffering medical emergency while driving

A Mesa man was killed Sunday in a wreck north of Connell after suffering an unknown medical emergency, said the Washington State Patrol.

James A. Schlatter, 58, died at Lourdes Medical Center in Pasco, where he was taken after the 7:30 p.m. crash.

Schlatter was driving east on Lind Road approaching Highway 395 when some type of medical emergency caused his 1998 Toyota pickup to go off the road, troopers said.

His truck then crashed into a barbed wired fence.

Schlatter, a lifelong Mesa resident, worked for the state Department of Corrections as a cook at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center in Connell.

Police investigating gas station robbery where gun was fired

Hermiston police are investigating a Saturday night robbery at a gas station where a single gunshot may have been accidentally fired by the suspects.

The robbery occurred around 10:30 p.m. at the Westside 76 Station, said Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston.

Two employees were working and had just closed the station when two partially masked men approached them and demanded money from the store's deposit bag, he said. The suspects brandished a firearm.

After getting some cash, they ran toward the Ridgeway Village Apartments, Edmiston said. That's when a single round was fired in the area, but detectives believe it may have occurred as the suspects took off, he said.

Investigators have extremely limited information in the case, Edmiston said. Anyone with information about the robbery can call Lt. Travis Eynon at 541-667-5103.

Sunnyside police arrest gang member after finding gun

A traffic stop by Sunnyside police for defective equipment ended up landing a convicted gang member in jail after a gun was found in the glove box, police said.

Sunnyside officers stopped a car, driven by 21-year-old Jorge Galindo around 11:30 p.m. Saturday and found that three of the four occupants were documented gang members, said Sgt. Joey Glossen.

Galindo was arrested for driving with a suspended license and the car was impounded. When officers were taking inventory of items in the car before it was impounded, they found a loaded .38-caliber handgun in the glove box, he said.

After getting a warrant to search the car, they seized the gun. The front seat passenger, Daniel Maldonado, 19, reportedly told police the gun belonged to him and he put it in the glove box of his mother's car before meeting the other gang members in Sunnyside, Glossen said.

Maldonado, a four-time convicted felon, was arrested on suspicion of first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and a warrant from Sunnyside Municipal Court.

Police again arrest 17-year-old robbery suspect in Hermiston

HERMISTON -- A 17-year-old Hermiston teen suspected of robbing a bank was arrested again Friday.

Austin J. Erickson previously had been arrested for allegedly being involved the February robbery of the Old West Federal Credit Union, according to Hermiston Police.

Detectives arrested Erickson at his home. They were looking for him based on an active contempt of court warrant related to the previous arrest, according to a news release.

He was arrested in connection with first-degree robbery, first-degree aggravated theft, menacing and attempting to elude in a vehicle, according to the Umatilla County's website.

-- Paula Horton: 582-1556; phorton@tricityherald.com

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