TACOMA (CN) - Mount Rainier National Park rangers used a bait car loaded with electronic goodies and camping gear to catch thieves who have been stealing valuables from trailheads, federal prosecutors said.
Rangers parked the car at a popular trail parking lot and the next morning a ranger on stakeout saw a couple drive up, smash its window and steal the stuff, according to the federal complaint.
"The couple left the parking lot, and the ranger radioed his colleagues about the break-in. The couple was 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," prosecutors said in announcing the bust.
The United States accused Jamie Davis Spain and his girlfriend Dawn Marie Gale of theft, theft of government property and malicious mischief.
A ranger said in the federal complaint that there have been about 15 vehicle break-ins at Mt. Rainier National Park this month alone, "spread throughout the park." That's why they set up the sting.
Rangers found stolen credit cards and two drivers licenses in Spain's shoe, according to the complaint. "When asked about the vehicle break-in, Gale stated, 'I knew it was wrong.' When asked if Spain forced her to participate, Gale responded that Spain 'does not force her to do anything,'" according to the complaint.
Mt. Rainier Chief Ranger Chuck Young said in a statement that the arrests "will not necessarily end the problem of car burglaries in the park." He urged park visitors not to leave valuables in their car.