Property Crime Unit Disbanded, Car Prowling Victim Sticks Up For - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Property Crime Unit Disbanded, Car Prowling Victim Sticks Up For Police

SPOKANE, Wash. - It's the sound the owner of a guard dog never wants to hear: barking in the middle of the night. Two weeks ago barking awoke Rebecca Mack and her husband Tim Frothingham, to a car prowler.

"There's something going on so my husband looks out the window and he sees a guy prowling in the back of his truck," Mack explained.

Mack said the bad guy rifled through their truck and parked in the driveway of their home near 13th and Grand on the lower South Hill. By the time he made it downstairs Frothingham's old - albeit sentimental - tool kit was long gone, so was the suspect.

The couple was furious, but they never called police Mack said because they were dismayed that the Spokane Police Department had disbanded its property crimes unit.

As KHQ had previously reported, SPD announced it would not investigate 95 percent of property crimes since budget cuts led to the disbanding of the unit. Spokane Police Spokesperson Jennifer DeRuwe said eight detective positions in the property crimes unit were eliminated through attrition.

"If it's in fact true that the Spokane Police Department isn't going to invest property crimes, are we supposed to resort to vigilantism?" Mack said. "What are you supposed to do?"

Then a week later Mack and her husband would get another shot at answering that question when their guard dog woke them up a second time in two weeks.

"Tim looks out and sees the guy," Mack said.

Frothingham said there was a man in their front yard again seemingly prowling their cars. So he got dressed and went outside to confront the man. To his surprise Frothingham said the man in question stopped. Frothingham said the man fed him a story - something about needing a water bottle - but ultimately took off without much of a confrontation.

The Frothingham said he turned around and realized his family's Mini Cooper had been ransacked.

"He was so upset. He wanted to get the guy," Mack said.

This time, Mack said, her husband did call police with a good description of the bad guy. About 40 minutes later, police called back. Sergeant Tom Lee reported to the couple that they had caught and arrested the man who matched Frothingham's description of the prowling suspect.

"It was like no way! This is awesome, are you kidding? It's like the least expected outcome," Mack said.

It was that outcome that changed Mack's mind about counting on police despite the change in property crime investigations.

"Even though it may seem futile to call the cops if something happens to you, call the cops," she said.

Spokane Police Spokesperson Jennifer DeRuwe said police still want property crime victims to call because they are more likely to investigate if there has been a pattern of crimes in one area. The number for Crime Check is 456- 2233.

Should you confront a bad guy?

Many times the first instinct is to grab whatever is nearby and confront the person who is prowling or burglarizing their property, but DeRuwe said not to confront the suspects. DeRuwe said that person could run away without a chance for you to see what they look like or, worse, try to fight.

Police encourage people to call them from a safe place where they can get a good description of the suspect.

This web story was filed by KHQ Local News reporter

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