Teens face theft charges

Transient heard boys boasting about crimes

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COEUR d'ALENE - Police detectives recently closed 31 auto burglary cases, and two felony malicious-injury to property cases that were reported over the course of the summer.

The Coeur d'Alene Police Department arrested and charged three male juveniles with the crimes, spokeswoman Sgt. Christie Wood said in a press release Thursday.

She said detectives believe several more reported burglaries in Coeur d'Alene and in Kootenai County could be connected to the boys.

Detectives are continuing their investigation in an effort to resolve all of the cases possibly connected to the suspects, she said.

The juveniles' names will not be released, but they are 13, 16, and 17 years old, she said.

The 13-year-old was a reported runaway at the time of his arrest and recently moved here from Billings, Mont.

The 17-year-old also was a reported runaway and resides in Coeur d'Alene. The 16-year-old resides in Coeur d'Alene, she said.

On Sept. 6, detectives received a tip from a male transient that had been residing in an area near the Spokane River just west of Riverstone and outside of the city limits.

The witness told police he had been staying at a makeshift camp near the river and several juveniles also were camping in the vicinity.

He told police he overheard them talking about cars they had burglarized and bragging about throwing stolen property into the river.

The witness had spoken to a bus driver working at Riverstone the day before, and was informed of several car burglaries that had just occurred.

Thinking the crimes might be connected to the boys in the camp, he notified Coeur d'Alene police.

Both Coeur d'Alene and Kootenai County detectives responded to the area and located the male juveniles.

They were found to be in possession of several items of stolen property.

The sheriff's department recovered stolen property in the river downstream from the juveniles' campsite.

The items recovered included computers, iPods, cellphones and other property that was damaged beyond repair.

Over a period of several days, Coeur d'Alene Det. Alan Winstead reviewed several reported auto burglaries that initially had no suspect information.

He interviewed all three boys separately and determined they were responsible for many of the crimes.

The boys have initially been charged with 11 felony counts of burglary as well as several misdemeanor related charges. They allegedly indicated they broke into as many as 90 cars, Wood said.

Many of the vehicles were left unlocked by their owners, and some of them had their windows smashed in.

Detectives are continuing the investigation of reported cases.

Wood said one of the boys also is possibly responsible for some graffiti vandalism that occurred within the city.

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