Stories from the Street 2016

Victim Robbed at Gunpoint for Pizza

December 29, 2016 

On December 29, 2016, officers arrested two men and a juvenile for Robbery after they stole five pizzas and an order of chicken wings from a pizza-delivery person at gun point. 

Around 9:40 p.m., an employee from a local restaurant attempted to deliver food to an apartment in the 2300 block of 9th Avenue Southwest. When no one answered the door at the apartment, the delivery person walked back to her vehicle where she was suddenly confronted by three males, one of which was wielding a handgun. The group demanded the driver “drop” the pizzas and when she did, they grabbed the food and ran off. 

OPD Officers quickly arrived in the area and deployed OPD K9 Kaiser on a track. After a brief sniff of the victim’s delivery car, he and his partner followed the food scent to find one suspect hiding in the bushes a few blocks away with a half-eaten slice of pizza in his mouth. As they were taking that suspect into custody, a van drove by. The suspect spit out his pizza, pointed officers to the passing van, and told them the other suspects were inside. Officers were able to stop the van and arrest the other two suspects who were still holding a couple of pizza boxes.

All three suspects admitted to the robbery, although they all pointed fingers at each other as to who devised the plan. They said that grew hungry that evening and felt like pizza and chicken wings, so they called in a fictitious order to a local pizza delivery restaurant. They waited in the bushes until the driver showed up and walked away from the fake apartment, and then they robbed her. The suspects said they ran off with the food to a nearby church where they were all enjoying the pizza and wings on the steps until they saw the police car lights and heard the sirens. Knowing the lights and sirens were for them, they chucked the firearm into the woods, but kept the food and began to flee the area until they were caught. 

Two adults, ages 18 and 19, were booked into Thurston County Jail for the crime of Robbery 1. One juvenile, age 16, was booked into Thurston County Juvenile Detention for the crime of Robbery 1.   

 

Robbery and Theft Suspect Arrested

October 19, 2016

On October 19, 2016, officers arrested a man for Robbery and linked him to a Theft from the day before. Around 3:30 p.m., officers were simultaneously dispatched to the Safeway on Harrison Avenue for the robbery and a disturbance on the 400 block of Cooper Point Road. Witnesses reported hearing gunshots at the disturbance and that a group of people had a man pinned on the ground.

Officers arrived and secured the firearm. A witness had fired a warning shot into the ground to stop the robbery suspect from running. Officers learned that a sixty-two year old woman had placed her purse in her cart at Safeway while she shopped. As she picked out groceries, the suspect pushed her, snatched her purse and ran out of the store.

A group of witnesses heard the victim calling for help and tried catching the suspect. He was able to get away, so they got in their car to try and find him. They saw him going through the purse on Cooper Point Road. When they confronted him, he attempted to run again, but stopped when the warning shot was fired. Other witnesses stopped to help detain the suspect until officers arrived.

The suspect admitted to stealing the purse, taking money out and putting it in his pocket. Officers were able to retrieve and return everything to the victim. They recognized the suspect from a theft at Safeway the day prior and questioned if he had stolen a wallet that day. The suspect admitted to the theft and confessed it was still in his car. Officers located the wallet and returned it to the previous victim.

Twenty-six-year-old Brenin Olive was arrested for Robbery and a warrant out of Lacey, and was booked at the Thurston County Jail. Officers referred the case to prosecutors to determine if the witness’ use of the gun was an unlawful discharge of a firearm.

 

Man Arrested After Story Doesn't Pan Out

August 30, 2016 

Officers arrested a man for vehicle prowl and possession of stolen property after observing him display suspicious behavior near a truck on the 1000 block of Olympia Ave.

Just before midnight on August 30, 2016, an officer saw the suspect standing with his hand near the passenger-door handle of the victim’s truck. As the officer passed, the suspect lowered his hand, walked away from the truck and hid behind a tree. When the officer contacted him behind the tree, the suspect claimed the truck belonged to his Uncle Rob who lives in Auburn, and that he was looking for something he might have left inside.

Dispatch confirmed the registered owner’s name was not Rob, and he did not live in Auburn. The officer relayed this to the suspect, who then changed his story and said his uncle planned to buy the truck and he was checking it out for him.

The officer contacted the registered owner at a residence nearby who confirmed he did not know the suspect. Nothing was missing, but the truck was locked when he left it, and his closed glove box was now open. The suspect confessed he was in the truck looking for change and anything else of value.

The officer recovered a portable speaker valued at $300.00, a phone charger, a small purse and headphones on the suspect, who admitted to stealing them from other cars. He couldn’t remember where they were located because he prowled multiple vehicles, sometimes up to five a night.

Later in the night, another victim reported a speaker and phone charger missing from his car that matched the items recovered on the suspect.

Twenty-five-year-old Justin Miller was arrested and booked at the Olympia City Jail.

 

Melnic Called in Sick

July 22, 2016

As you are probably aware, being a working K9 for a police department is hard but rewarding work.  Working K9’s give their all to their communities and, at times, that work isn’t easy on their bodies.  Many of you have heard that Melnic was feeling under-the-weather recently.  And, a whole lot of you have been calling to ask about him and to wish him well.  Last week Officer Wilson took his partner to his veterinarian doctor and had an MRI performed.  Mel has two moderate herniated discs in two different locations on his back.  These discs are causing Mel to feel weak and, at times, have limited mobility.  Next week, Melnic will undergo surgery.  Mel’s doctor believes the surgery will correct the condition and with some recovery and rehabilitation time he may be back to work in about 6 weeks. 

As some of you know, this is not Mel’s first bout with a major surgery.  In late 2012, Mel tore ligaments in a rear foot causing the joint to be fused together.  He was out of service for about 7 months for the recovery but bounced back like a champ. 

Melnic loves his job.  He loves visiting our school kids, working for this community and getting pets from the people he meets.

We’ll keep you updated on how he’s doing after the surgery.  Mel wants us to tell you he appreciates all the nice thoughts and wishes and he’s anxious to get back to work. 

 

Suspect in Downtown Fire Arrested 

July 4, 2016 

On July 4, 2016, Olympia Police Department (OPD) and Olympia Fire Department (OFD) personnel responded to a structure fire at 802 Jefferson Street Southeast. A 5’ by 5’ area on the exterior of the structure was on fire and threatening adjacent office buildings. After extinguishing the fire, OFD personnel believed the cause of it was suspicious and likely the fire was intentionally set. Fire Department personnel obtained surveillance video from a neighboring business which showed a male with peculiar clothing in the area of the origin of the fire minutes before the structure caught on fire. 

On July 5, 2016, OFD personnel were in the area of the Downtown Library on routine business when they saw a person with the same clothing as they had witnessed in the surveillance video. OFD notified OPD of the suspicious person and police officers responded to the area. Police officers made contact with the suspect and with a witness who was in his company at the time. 

Through investigation, which included recovery of physical evidence, witness statements and suspect statements, 22-year-old Joshua Perdue (transient, CA) was arrested for one count of Arson to the structure at 802 Jefferson St. SE and booked into the Thurston County ARC.

During the police interview, Perdue recounted that he witnessed seven other recent fires in the City of Olympia and provided some suspicious details regarding his presence at those fires. Those fires include:

• 2 separate fires in an alleyway in downtown Olympia behind a pizza restaurant
• 2 separate fires in an alleyway behind Fish Tale Brewery
• A fire at a self-service fuel station (303 Thurston Avenue)
• A fire to a business (416 State Avenue)
• A fire to a warehouse (237 Adams Street)

This investigation is still on-going. The Olympia Police Department is asking anyone with information about this case or the fires listed above to please call the Olympia Police Department Detective Division at (360) 753-8300. 

For general information about Fire Department business relating to these events, please contact Fire Marshal Rob Bradley at (360) 688-6662.

 

Business Owner Caught Using Store to Sell, Use Drugs 

June 17, 2016 

On June 17, 2016, officers uncovered a retail store being used as a front to sell drugs.

Around three in the morning, an officer saw a man smoking outside the sporting goods store Score! on the 1400 block of State Avenue. Knowing the business was closed, he stopped to check on it and saw four men through one of the windows. He witnessed one of the men put something in foil, place a lighter under it and inhale the smoke through a pipe. There appeared to be more drugs and paraphernalia on the front desk near where they stood. The officer spotted the business owner, Evan Pederson, among the men. Pederson just purchased the business a few weeks ago.

All four men were detained and admitted to using drugs. Pederson told officers that people came by regularly to buy and consume narcotics, including meth and heroin. One of the men told officers it was common knowledge that if the lights were on, the business was open for drugs. Pederson admitted he had more drugs in the store, so officers obtained a search warrant and located 12.33 grams of Heroin, .96 grams of Methamphetamine, a scale, foil, meth pipes, a handgun with ammunition inside a backpack, and prescription drugs.

Officers arrested 35-year-old Pederson, 35-year-old Justin Burnam, 21-year-old Arael Field-Borodin, and 23-year-old Damon Wiffen. They were all booked at the Thurston County ARC.
 

OPD Celebrates Awards for 2015

May 20, 2016 

At the Olympia Police Department, we are proud of our employees.  Year-after-year, day-to-day, our staff demonstrates their care for our community and unending good service to the people of this town. 

Once a year, during National Police Week, the staff of the Olympia Police Department holds a ceremony to review our successes and honor those amongst us who have distinguished themselves in service to our community and department.  During this ceremony awards are given to selected staff based on a variety of criteria.  On behalf of the Olympia Police Department, we are proud to announce this year’s award winners are: 

Officer of the Year:
Patrol Officer George Clark
Employee of the Year:
Lonnie Griffin
Distinguished Service Award:
K9 Officer Randy Wilson (& Melnic!)
Life Saving Awards:
Corrections Officer Philip Arias
Patrol Officer Nicole Glenn
Patrol Sergeant Renschler
Inspirational Partner Award:
Corrections Officer Jaymey Holmes
Patrol Officer Bryan Houser
Patrol Sergeant Matt Renschler
Special Commendation Awards:
Program Specialist Rachel Ashton
Corrections Officer Les Duncan
Patrol Officer Aaron Ficek
Patrol Officer Josh Marcuson
Chief’s Special Commendation Awards:
Corrections Sergeant Ren Emerson
Patrol Officer Shelby Nutter
Patrol Sergeant Dan Smith
Patrol Officer Javier Sola Del Vigo

 

Multi-Agency Task Force Targets Auto Thefts 

April 14, 2016

Last year, law enforcement agencies in the Thurston County region saw a clear increase in auto-theft crimes. In October, November and December 2015, more than 50 cars a month were stolen throughout the region. In January 2016, that number dramatically escalated to 73 stolen vehicles. Because of the escalating crime trend, Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater law enforcement agencies, together with the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office, assembled a team of detectives from each agency to form a Task Force with a mission to reduce this crime trend.  

Convening in mid-January, the multi-agency Task Force began its strategic plan by combining each agency’s data and information to conduct a thorough crime analysis of the problem. Based on the shared data and information, the Team saw some clear themes to the trend, such as the types of vehicles stolen, the locations of the thefts, and several repeat suspects. The analysis helped the Team focus and use their resources efficiently and effectively to put together a strategic investigative plan in addressing the trend. The investigative plan included the use of bait cars, informants, physical surveillance and tracking devices. Crucial to the effectiveness of the task force was the sharing of information with each agency’s Patrol Services Divisions.  

For 2 ½ months, the Team operated throughout the Region addressing the crime trend. As of the end of March, the Task Force arrested 27 people for Auto Theft or crimes related to this trend, and supported local Patrol Divisions with another 10 arrests. As a result, the number of Auto Thefts in the Region has declined: in February there were 59 auto thefts, and in March there were 35.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the Task Force investigations, detectives learned several things about Auto Thefts in the Region:

• Most stolen vehicles or their parts were sold or traded for narcotics;   
• Most stolen vehicles in this trend were not taken to a traditional “chop shop” like facility and parted out.  Rather, they were traded or sold in whole condition;    
• Some parts of stolen cars were removed to “upgrade” or decorate the suspects’ own car or that of an associate;
• Suspects of these crimes were frequently involved in a multitude of other crimes like theft or fraud, all in some way associated with the illicit narcotics trade; 
• Some cars were stolen only to drive them a few blocks out of site to steal the contents of the vehicle;  
• Most suspects used what’s called a “shaved key” to steal the car, which is a normal key that has been filed down to fit particular makes of vehicles;     

While most of the vehicles stolen in the Region appear to be crimes of opportunity, the Task Force noted that based on their investigations over the last two months, good prevention ideas include:

• Lock your vehicles when leaving them;
• Park vehicles in a garage if available;
• Park vehicles in well-lit locations;
• Remove valuables from inside the vehicle when it is left alone or hide them from sight;
• Use anti-theft devices if the vehicle is equipped with such;
• Report suspicious activity to your local police department. 

 

Officers Arrest Vehicle Prowler Targeting Parks

March 16, 2016 

Olympia Police Officers arrested another prolific vehicle prowler who had hit numerous popular parks in Olympia and throughout Thurston County. On March 16, 2016, they obtained a search warrant and arrested the suspect after locating drugs and an extensive amount of stolen property in his car, home, and a storage unit he rented.

On March 2nd, the Port of Olympia asked a suspicious black Range Rover parked in a reserved lot to leave the area. A vehicle prowl had occurred earlier in the night so the security officer obtained the license plate number of the Range Rover.

On March 14th, a black Range Rover was involved in a vehicle prowl at Kenneydell County Park. The victim saw the car speeding away from her car, which had its window smashed out. The next day, she saw the same suspect and car at a gas station and was able to get a picture of the suspect and his license plate. The plates matched the ones from the Port of Olympia.

On March 15th, a victim at Priest Point Park was sleeping in his car when his window was smashed out. He startled the suspect, who fled in a black Range Rover. His description matched the photo of the suspect from the Kenneydell County Park incident.

After obtaining the search warrant, officers recovered numerous stolen items including purses, backpacks, clothing, electronics, golf clubs, motorcycle helmets, an inflatable kayak, sleeping bags, photo IDs, paperwork, a passport, and two snowboards that were confirmed stolen from a vehicle prowl at Priest Point Park.

The suspect confessed to using the storage unit to house stolen property and admitted to committing 20 or more vehicle prowls in the last month. Officers also located Meth on the suspect while he was being searched incident to arrest. He has five previous felony convictions for two counts of Residential Burglary and three counts of controlled substance possession.

Officers arrested 34-year-old Jeremy Bunting for Possession of Stolen Property and Possession of Meth. He was booked at the Thurston County ARC. Additional charges are expected as officers connect the stolen property to victims throughout the area.
 

Twenty-three Charges and Counting - Prolific Vehicle Prowler Arrested 

March 10th, 2016

During January and February, 2016, the City of Olympia experienced a high number of vehicle-prowl crimes, particularly on the west side of town. During one of those vehicle prowls, a debit card was stolen and later used at a local ATM. Officers were able to obtain photos of the suspect from the ATM machine and one officer recognized the suspect as someone he had recently contacted for another matter.

Officers took the photo to the suspect’s last known address where they contacted the suspect’s mother. She positively identified the person in the photo as her son, 30-year-old Christopher Camus. As officers talked to her, Camus came home, accompanied by a woman. Seeing the police, the woman companion quickly said she needed to go and attempted leave while ditching narcotics. As she turned to leave, she turned into another officer walking up the stairs. The woman was identified and arrested for a warrant from the Department of Corrections.

Based on the photo of him using the stolen debit card at the ATM machine, officers arrested Camus for possession of stolen property. The investigating patrol officers then obtained a search warrant for Camus’ bedroom. While conducting the search of his room, officers found large amounts of items stolen during car break-ins, including  driver’s licenses, credit and debit cards, sunglasses, tax forms, boxing gloves, and checks. Stolen paperwork and property belonging to 29 people were identified. While talking to Camus about his crimes, he admitted to having prowled more than 30 vehicles in the last month. He focused on the west-side area, mostly around the Mall and Black Lake Boulevard, and frequently waited for Sunday services at a local church in order to prowl vehicles parked in their lot.

In all, Officers arrested Camus and booked him at the Thurston County ARC for 13 counts of Possession of Stolen Property and 10 counts of Identity Theft. They linked him to 8 separate vehicle prowls.

The case is still under investigation. Property recovered from the suspect’s bedroom is being identified and returned to victims of vehicle prowls. Additional charges will be added later.

 

Safeway Fraud Suspect Arrested, Linked to Other Burglaries

Monday, March 7th 

Officers arrested a woman for multiple charges after she impersonated a Safeway auditor and stole over $20,000 in cash, checks, vouchers and merchandise. They also linked her to two other commercial burglaries from earlier in the month.

On March 7, 2016, a 27-year-old woman walked into the Safeway on Martin Way, entered the employee break room and stole an employee uniform. She then wore it and presented herself convincingly as an auditor from corporate. Real auditors often arrive unannounced at the stores to conduct their work, so the assistant manager gave her access to the customer service area and the back office that had access to the safe. He was busy with closing the store, but started to question some of her work and demands the longer she was there.

When the suspect asked him to call her a cab, he became extra suspicious and called the store manager to come in. After contacting the manager, he located two carts full of records and property that were covered by blankets and immediately called 911. Officers stopped the suspect near Lowes with a rolling suitcase and cloth bag tied to the suitcase. Officers recovered a significant amount of tobacco products and stamps, alcohol, over $1,500 in rolled coins, and over $3,500 in retail products in the carts. After a search warrant was obtained for the suitcase, officers recovered even more money and paperwork, totaling over $20,000 between the carts and the suitcase.

Another officer recognized some of the items recovered on the suspect as matching stolen goods from two burglaries earlier in the week at St. Peter’s and the Olympia Center. They obtained security video from the Olympia Center that caught the suspect stealing inside the facility while wearing items stolen during a burglary at St. Peter’s.

Lorraine Little was arrested and booked at the Thurston County ARC for Criminal Impersonation, Commercial Burglary and Theft at Safeway. Charges were referred to the prosecutor for the earlier incidents at St. Peter’s and the Olympia Center. 

Suspect Arrested for Three Charges of Malicious Harassment

Friday, March 4th

Officers arrested a man for three counts of Malicious Harassment after he verbally attacked three African Americans, and struck one in the face.

On March 4, 2016, officers were called to a disturbance at the Shell gas station on the corner of State Ave and East Bay Drive. Witnesses said the suspect was using racial slurs and went hands on with a man. No one initially wanted to make statements against the suspect, so he was released after officers talked to him.

A couple hours later, officers were dispatched to a disorderly conduct complaint at another gas station on Pacific Avenue. Witnesses saw the same suspect using racial slurs and acting erratically towards two African-American women, an aunt and her adult niece.

The women were getting gas and had the niece’s 13-year-old son in the car. The niece was headed into the store when the suspect confronted her with racial slurs and swearing. Witnesses and the victims said that between the slurs, the suspect was speaking in a different language, rocking back and forth, flailing his arms and clenching his fists. The women feared an assault and the aunt grabbed a squeegee to use as protection. Witnesses called the cops, an employee told the suspect to leave and some men stopped to help intervene.

Officers later returned to the Shell station and spoke to the victim of the first incident. He said the suspect looked like he was going to fight another man in the parking lot. He went to break it up and the suspect started yelling racial slurs at him and struck him in the face.

Officers arrested 46-year-old Cody Johnson and booked him at the Thurston County Jail. He had just gotten to town the day prior after being released from prison in Monroe.  

Alert Restaurant Employee Leads to Vehicle Prowler Arrest

Friday, February 19th 

On February 19, 2016, officers were dispatched to a vehicle prowl in progress at Red Robin on the Westside and while in route were notified of a disturbance with the same individuals in front of Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts. 

Officers arrived at Jo-Ann Fabrics and were told by three men that a fourth man was caught breaking into one of their cars. The victim was notified by a co-worker that someone was in his car and when he went to check on it, saw the suspect going through his glove box and center console. 

The victim yelled at the suspect, who exited the car, ran to a Toyota Camry and locked himself in the vehicle. He attempted to start the car multiple times, and when it would not work, jumped out and fled. A second suspect in the Camry exited and fled towards the mall. The Camry later came back stolen out of Olympia. 

The victim and two other men chased the first suspect and were able to stop him until police arrived. While waiting for officers, the suspect said he would give them money if they let him go and then pushed one of the men in an attempt to get away.

The suspect told officers his friend asked him to get “his” jacket out of the victim’s car. He said he didn’t steal anything because everything he’d taken he gave back to the victim when they stopped him. He denied driving the stolen Camry to the scene, saying his friend did and then moved to the passenger seat while he was in the victim’s car.

Officers arrested 35-year-old Justin Comas for vehicle prowl, possession of stolen property, simple assault and outstanding felony warrants from Thurston County. He was booked at the Thurston County ARC.

 

Disturbance at Hotel Causes Evacuation

Wednesday, February 17th

An estimated 2,000 people were evacuated from the Red Lion Hotel on the Westside of Olympia Wednesday evening after one woman sprayed another woman with pepper spray and the fumes spread through the hotel air system. 

At about 5:30 pm, on February 17th, Olympia Police Officers were dispatched to a report of two women fighting in a hotel room at the Red Lion.  Witnesses also reported that a woman and a man had broken a hotel room window, jumped through it and were fleeing the area in a vehicle. 

On arrival, Officers found the hotel fire alarm activated and guests evacuating the hotel.  The hotel was packed at the time with a conference happening.  Officers entered the hotel and could smell the distinct aroma of pepper spray in the air.  Hotel guests passing the officers in the evacuation reported they heard a loud crash, saw a male and female jump out a broken window then began to smell an odd odor and were subject to coughing fits.  Witnesses thought maybe a gas pipe had burst so they pulled the fire alarm which evacuated the building. 

Officers located one of the women involved in the disturbance rather easily because her face and shirt were covered in an orange substance that is often the chemical residue left behind by the use of pepper spray.  The woman explained to officers that she had come to the hotel to collect bail money for her boyfriend from another woman.  When she arrived at the room, she found that other woman was accompanied by a male.  The other woman refused to give her the bail money which led to the two of them engaging in an argument and then a physical fight.  During the course of the fight the other woman sprayed her with a large volume of “Bear Spray.”  The woman who had been sprayed refused to let the two leave the room until she got the bail money but the fumes from the pepper spray were becoming too overwhelming for the other female and male so they broke the hotel room window, jumped through it and fled the area in a vehicle. 

Olympia Fire Department arrived and treated the woman for pepper spray exposure and helped air out the hotel.  OPD Officers obtained a search warrant for the hotel room and recovered the pepper spray canister, cash and drug paraphernalia. 

Olympia Police Officers are conducting follow-up investigations into this matter.  

Man Arrested for Two Burglaries

Sunday, January 31st 

Officers conducted an extensive search and arrested a man for two commercial burglaries during the morning of January 31, 2016 after an alarm tripped at the Cherry Street Plaza on 8th Avenue. Dispatch advised officers that the Security Manager of the building confirmed seeing someone enter the building on video after the alarm went off. 

OPD’s canine officer and Melnic were called to the scene, and the Lacey and Tumwater Police Department and Washington State Patrol assisted with securing the large perimeter. Officers saw a man ready to jump to the ground from the parking garage, but he ran back into the building after seeing them. 

Officers cleared each floor along with Melnic and found computers missing and desks disturbed throughout the second floor. They located a staging area in the parking garage where office equipment was lined up next to a suitcase. They did not locate the suspect during the first search, but Melnic’s behavior indicated he was still in the building.

Officers searched each floor again and noticed signs of forced entry on a door leading to the roof. They cleared the roof area and found the suspect hiding in a large vent. One of OPD’s officers recognized the suspect from video of a burglary the day prior. He wore the same clothing, had the same backpack and his boot prints matched those found at the scene. 

Officers arrested twenty-nine-year-old Kyle Wilde and booked him at the Thurston County ARC for two counts of commercial burglary and an outstanding Department of Corrections warrant.