Nearly 40 churches in Washington and Idaho are the target of thieves

The following report details the results of a gang of thieves who targeted local churches in Washington and Idaho. It appears that while one of the thieves would distract the staff, another would take credit cards, wallets, purses and laptop computers, which would be sold or traded for drugs. The ring took items from nearly 40 churches. The credit cards were used to purchase electronic good for resale. Please be aware of this distraction technique and avoid leaving high value items unattended in plain sight of unknown visitors.

Here is the story as filled by the The Spokesman-Review

Spokane Valley detectives made arrests today in what they call a ring of thefts at nearly 40 area churches where suspects stole credit cards used to purchase goods that were then traded for drugs.

Spokane County Sheriff’s Detective Kirk Keyser, who is contracted to work in Spokane Valley, said fellow law enforcement crews hit three homes today, confiscating piles of stolen goods and supplies of narcotics. One home is located across the street from Logan Elementary School and one empty lot away from a church.

“Over the last several months, we’ve had multiple thefts at churches in Spokane County, Spokane and North Idaho,” Keyser said. “The subjects would request to talk to the pastor or the priest about either confession or joining the congregation.”

Soon after the visits, the church officials would realize purses, wallets or laptop computers were missing and report the thefts to police, Keyser said.

“Then the victims’ credit cards would start to get used to purchase electronics. They would then trade the electronics for narcotics in the Spokane area,” Keyser said.

As a result of the investigation, detectives raided Spokane homes at 16 S. Fiske St., 2503 E. 7th Ave. and 1016 E. Montgomery Ave.

“We recovered multiple TVs, computers and gaming equipment. We also found narcotics, including OxyContin, crack cocaine and methamphetamines,” he said.

At the Fiske address, deputies arrested Raymond E. Coble, 45, on a felony warrant from the Department of Corrections. They also arrested Steven D. Kinard, 50, for possession of crack cocaine.

At the Montgomery address, deputies arrested Daniel I. Heinzen, 23, for first-degree trafficking of stolen property.

The thefts occurred at 18 churches in Spokane County, 12 in Spokane and a few more in North Idaho, he said.

“We anticipate several more potential charges, including in trafficking in stolen property and possession of narcotics,” Keyser said.

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