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Enumclaw pair charged following car prowling incidents at Mount Rainier National Park
Two people were arrested early Sunday morning following a series of car prowls at Mount Rainier National Park.
The two defendants, residents of the Enumclaw, appeared in federal court Monday. Both Jamie D. Spain, 39, and Dawn M. Gale, 44, are charged with theft of government property, theft of personal property and malicious mischief. The two remain in custody pending detention hearings later this week.
According to the criminal complaint, in early August, the National Park Service noted an increase in reported car prowls at Mount Rainier National Park. To address the problem, the park service decided to place a number of “bait cars,” to see if they could identify suspects in the prowls. One sedan was loaded with a cell phone, GPS device, satellite phone, digital camera and camping equipment. The car was parked at the Crystal Lakes Trailhead the evening of Aug. 20. A park ranger kept the vehicle under surveillance.
According to a Department of Justice press release, at about 6 a.m. Sunday, the ranger watched as Spain and Gale drove into the parking lot. After looking into the cars parked at the trailhead, the ranger watched as the two broke the window on the car. It is alleged Spain removed all the valuables, checking the trunk for more. The couple left the parking lot and the ranger radioed his colleagues about the break-in. The suspects were pulled over a short distance away. Not only did they have all the materials stolen from the bait car, they also possessed credit cards, drivers’ licenses, and a cell phone linked to other car prowls at trailheads in Mount Rainier National Park and Snoqualmie National Forest.
If convicted the defendants face up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The case is being investigated by the National Park Service and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Patricia Lally.
Chief Ranger Chuck Young commended the efforts of all involved in the arrest and cautioned those visiting the park.
“The arrest of these individuals will not necessarily end the problem of car burglaries in the park," he said. "To avoid becoming a victim of future car burglaries, visitors to Mount Rainier and surrounding areas should continue to take precautions by not leaving valuables in their cars while parking in areas in and around the park.”
Additional information on the car burglaries and ways to protect valuables can be found at www.nps.gov/mora/notices.htm