Crime

Benton County Sheriff's Office displays stolen items

Car stereos, speakers, digital cameras, a laptop and a .45-caliber gun are among the items stolen in vehicle prowls that have been recovered by Benton County sheriff's detectives.

Some victims have been identified, and the property has been returned, but detectives have at least 100 items that they can't track back to their rightful owners.

The stolen goods were displayed Tuesday at the sheriff's office in hopes that the owners of the property would spot an item and contact detectives.

The items include a camping air mattress, PSP video game device, multiple sets of keys, CDs, night-vision goggles, a digital picture frame, knives, a monitor and a tactical vest worn by law enforcement and military.

"We don't know who they belong to, but we know they were stolen," said Deputy Joe Lusignan.

Several more laptops also were recovered, but they were being forensically analyzed to try to identify the owner, said Detective Scott Runge.

Some victims of vehicle thefts don't report it to police because it's just a couple of items, Runge said. But authorities want to know about every vehicle prowl or theft because it could help them determine if a theft ring is operating in a certain area.

"I'd rather have 100 people call me to report vehicle thefts," he said. "The data for us is essential. It helps us shows spikes and trends."

The stolen items investigators have were recovered after sheriff's deputies went to a Finley home last week to look for a wanted woman. When they found her hiding in a bedroom, they noticed prescription medications that didn't belong to the residents.

The homeowner, Thomas T. Miller, 23, already was in the Benton County jail and has since been charged with possession of stolen property and unlawful possession of a firearm.

When they searched more, they found stolen items from vehicle prowls that Deputy Joe Lusignan said were taken in June and July, mostly from the Finley area. But some victims of car prowls in Kennewick and Pasco also have identified some of the stolen items, he said.

Miller also was a suspect in thefts in January and February, and it's likely some of the items seized by detectives were taken earlier this year, officials said.

Anyone who has had items stolen from their vehicles or property is encouraged to report it by calling dispatch through the nonemergency line at 628-0333.

Calls can also be made directly to the sheriff's office at 735-6555.

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