Suspects arrested and charged
Two Tacoma residents have been charged with crimes related to the car prowls and thefts in the Yakima parking lot at Pacific Lutheran University last month.
Pierce County Deputies charged Julias Chaee, 21, and Shelby Burgland, 23, with vehicle prowling and possession of stolen property, according to the Pierce County Sheriff’s report. A third suspect, 37-year-old Tacoma resident Brandon Rudolph, fled on foot and deputies could not apprehend him. None of the three were PLU students.
Chaee admitted to breaking into six vehicles in a PLU parking lot in the early morning of Sept. 27, according to the sheriff’s report. He later pointed the blame toward another suspect, Rudolph, escaped. Chaee said Rudolph threatened to “beat my [Chaee’s] ass” if Chaee did not break into the cars with him.
According to the police report, the plan was simple: Rudolph and Chaee were to break into the cars and steal “any and all items possible.”
They took the goods back to Chaee’s car, a green Mini Cooper, where Rudolph’s girlfriend, Burgland, was waiting and serving as a lookout. Chaee said he thought they made at least two trips back to the mini cooper with the stolen property.
Deputies found five cars with shattered windows and one car with the driver-side door hanging open in the Yakima parking lot when they arrived, according to the police report. The Yakima lot, located on Yakima Avenue and 121st Street, is available only for resident Pacific Lutheran students to park in.
Pierce County Sheriff chases down suspect
A Campus Safety video officer saw the break-ins occurring and immediately notified Pierce County Sheriff deputies, Director of Campus Safety Greg Premo said. Premo said deputies arrived on the scene within a minute.
When the police showed up, Chaee fled on foot west down 120th Street and dropped several items deputies believed to have been stolen. He gave up the chase around the 12100 block of Park Avenue South, where police restrained him and walked him to a waiting patrol car.
Chaee then tried to blame Rudolph, whom the deputy said he had not seen. Burglund, whom deputies had found waiting in the green Mini Cooper on 121st Street and Yakima Avenue, according to the police report. Chaee said Rudolph had fled at the same time he did.
Deputies handcuffed Burglund, who, after being read her Miranda Rights, declined to comment and said she wanted a lawyer, according to the police report. Deputies booked Chaee and Burglund into the Pierce County Jail. Rudolph remains at large.
Deputies got Chaee’s permission to tow his car and recovered several GPS units from the vehicle, which they booked into Property at the South Hill precinct of the Pierce County Sheriff’s office, according to the police report.
Campus Safety responds
Premo said if Campus Safety officers see someone engaging in suspicious activity, such as walking without a destination, they can dispatch safety officers to make contact with that person. If there’s an actual crime in progress, however, they call the sheriff’s deputies right away.
Both Chaee and Rudolph have lengthy legal histories. At the time of the Yakima lot crime there were two warrants out for his arrest for charges of theft and fourth-degree assault, according to the police report. Chaee was scheduled to appear in court on Thursday morning, according to the Washington Courts records website.
Rudolph had a hearing scheduled for Thursday for an offense he committed last summer. He failed to register as a sex offender three times, according to the Washington Courts records website. Burglund does not have any court appearances scheduled.
To protect themselves from break-ins, Premo recommended students park their cars in PLU lots. In addition to having street lights and cameras to act as crime deterrents, a PLU decal makes it easier for Campus Safety to contact the vehicle’s owner. “We like to try to contact the victim as soon as possible,” Premo said.
Premo also recommended not leaving any items sitting out in plain view. “Even clothing that’s sitting on the backseat – a thief might believe that you’re trying to conceal something,” he said. “I don’t leave anything sitting in my car. Don’t give them any reason to believe that there’s something of value there.”
Locked doors do not deter all thieves
Junior Allison Reynolds had an iPod stolen from her Subaru, but her car did not suffer any window damage. Reynolds said she believed her doors were locked, and damage to the driver’s-side door making it impossible to lock from the outside led her to believe the perpetrators had used some sort of lock pick.
Locked doors may also not be a deterrent for some thieves, Premo said. He explained that sometimes thieves will file down the ridges on keys to round them out so that they can fit multiple different car doors so they can break in.
Campus Safety officers do not have arrest authority, Premo said, and it is Campus Safety’s policy not to detain people.
“We’re utilizing the cameras to help monitor the situation, we’re dispatching campus safety officers to be more of an eyes-on type thing and do what they can to intervene, but we don’t actually make contact with people committing crimes,” he said. “We try to keep visual and relay that information to the deputies.”