Persistence pays off for North Valley theft victims

A burglary victim who kept a vigilant eye for her missing items is credited with the recovery of thousands of dollars of stolen goods believed taken in a series of residential and vehicle burglaries in north Douglas County.

Investigator Ron Elges set out more than 100 items in the Douglas County Sheriff's Office training room for inspection Friday by people who may have been victims of the December-January crime spree.

"One of the victims was very persistent. She saw a piece of her stolen property in a car and she called us. Her persistence in looking for her stuff broke this whole thing open," Elges said.

Property ranged from expensive jewelry and historic coins to a box of legal documents including wills, birth certificates and mortgage information.

Elges said the owners were invited to identify their property, but the goods will remain in evidence until the suspects are prosecuted.

He estimated the total loss and damage to property totaled $100,000.

He videotaped the items for people who were unable to check the property Friday.

Elges said four people are in jail in Carson City on unrelated charges and are awaiting transfer to Douglas County.

"All this property was recovered from a trailer at the Silver City RV Park," Elges said.

He believes the property can be tied to 15 vehicle and residential burglaries in the Johnson Lane and Sunridge areas.

He also credited victims in the Saratoga Springs area who were able to provide information.

"The citizens of the county really solved it," Elges said. "We just carried the paper."

Elges emphasized that the crime victims were vigilant without being vigilantes.

"They didn't try to interfere with our investigation," Elges said. "They were good witnesses."

Lt. Michael Biaggini echoed Elges.

"This is a prime example of what can happen when the public gets involved," Biaggini said. "It's an age-old thing. If you see something suspicious, by all means call us. You never know when it might be some key thing that breaks something open."

Elges said victims had mixed reactions Friday to seeing their possessions.

"Some people were very upset. They see some stuff, but are very upset about what's still missing," Elges said.

One man was ecstatic to recover his video camera because it contained a video of his family's first walk-through in their new home. Another woman was able to recover family heirlooms and other items that held significant meaning only to her.

One display included baby pictures that had been in a victim's wallet.

"These thieves take anything they can walk away with - cameras, VCRs, coins, CDs, wallets, DVDs," Elges said. "They consider it faceless crimes. They don't know the victims and they don't care."

Holding a copy of a popular DVD, Elges said thieves can take three or four to a store and exchange them for $25 to $30.

"I suspect the money is spent on narcotics and gambling," he said.

Elges said he emphasizes to homeowners that they work with their neighbors to watch each other's residences.

"When you go away, make sure someone is watching your home," Elges said. "The sheriff's office offers vacation checks, call and make arrangements."

Elges said the sheriff's office recovery rate for stolen property is high thanks to the work of deputies and residents.

"Most of us (deputies) live in the community," Elges said. "We do not want this to happen. We get good cooperation from citizens."


Sheriff's investigator Ron Elges said Johnson Lane and Sunridge residents who believe they may have been victims of a series of home and vehicle break-ins can contact the sheriff's office at 782-9905.


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