• Five arrested, more expected
by Jane Pascall
If not for the quick thinking of a cell-phone store employee, police may have had a much tougher time breaking the recent rash of Homer burglaries wide open.
A plea from Tech Connect employee Diana Hahnlein on a popular Facebook page read, “… Tech Connect got robbed last night; we’re a family owned business and this is a huge hit for us. They took iPads, iPods and Beats headphones … if anyone hears anything or knows anything, it would be really appreciated. Thank you.”
Like so many on the Facebook page that boasts 2,600 members, the post was read by an AT&T clerk. So, when a couple came into the store asking how to configure an iPad worth $559, she became suspicious. “Just days earlier, they had to scrape up money to pay their cell phone bill,” she said in a statement. Knowing there are only two places to buy an iPad in Homer — AT&T and Tech Connect — the clerk called police.
“What made it easy here is the AT&T folks who gave us our first solid clue,” said Homer Police Sgt. Lary Kuhns. “That was just outstanding. When that one factual clue manifested itself, we had the potential to arrest three or four other people.”
The couple, Crystal Kay Tangman, 36, and Brandon Cruz Doty, 22, were both arrested and charged with tampering with physical evidence, a class C felony. Doty was additionally charged with misdemeanor theft in the third degree and theft by receiving in the third degree.
Tangman told police she had received the iPad as a gift from Doty, but gave it back to him after learning it was stolen. Doty said he knew the iPad was stolen, having bought it from Derek Remington Dour for $150.
When police attempted to contact Dour at his residence on Old East End Road, the road leading up to his house was littered with clear plastic wrapping, iPad instruction booklets and two stickers identified as belonging to Tech Connect.
When interviewed by police, Dour said he received the Apple iPad from Josh Johnston. Dour has been charged with theft in the second degree and tampering with physical evidence, a class C felony.
Transient Joshua P. Johnson, 24, was arrested by Homer Police and charged with burglary in the second degree, theft in the second degree and tampering with physical evidence. The charges are not only in connection with the Tech Connect burglary, but also with the Salvation Army burglary. All charges are class C felonies.
On Sept. 11, police received a report that the Salvation Army on Pioneer Avenue had been burglarized and a safe containing nearly $2,000 taken. “Our financial future has been impacted,” said Homer Salvation Army Lt. Jeff Josephson in a previous interview. “What they destroyed in the process of taking that safe was our ability to help others in need.”
Police contacted Johnston based on a tip that he may have been involved in the burglary. Johnston confessed to police that he had stolen the safe and told them where they could find it. A search warrant procured the safe, along with receipts, ledgers and other paperwork associated with the store. The money, however, was gone. Johnston was arrested Oct. 23 and will be arraigned on Nov. 1.
Tech Connect was broken into on Oct. 21, and $4,500 in electronic equipment — five Apple i-Pads, three i-Pods and one Dre wireless headphone — were stolen.
A police affidavit indicated that a vehicle near the scene had also been broken into. Police activated a cellular telephone that had been dropped at the scene that didn’t belong to the vehicle owner. The phone led police again to Johnston, who was staying at Patrick Joseph Delumeau’s residence in Anchor Point.
Delumeau, 20, of Anchor Point, is currently on parole/probation relating to a previous second-degree theft conviction. Delumeau told police, after encouragement from his parole officer, that he had received a stolen iPad and iPod from Johnston, and currently had them concealed in the ceiling of his downstairs residence. The electronics were recovered, and Delumeau was arrested and charged with theft in the second degree and tampering with physical evidence. Both are class C felonies.
“I think it’s all part of this heroin/methamphetamine-driven rampage, for lack of a better term. Heroin has become mainstream in the last five years,” Kuhns said. “Our investigation is uncovering a few things that seem to correlate between drug usage and thefts. It’s pretty evident.”
Police Chef Mark Robl agreed.
“It’s a complex case,” he said. “When we get into it, it has little tentacles that go all over the place. There’s various people who knew about it, and didn’t report it to us. There’s various people who basically received stolen property and then either sold it, hid it or dumped it. So we’re chasing all that stuff down and anticipate charging at least a few more people.”
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