News and Press Releases

United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington

Bait Car Placed at Trailhead Following Increased Reports of Thefts from Vehicles

August 23, 2011

            Two people were arrested early Sunday morning August 21, following a series of car prowls at Mount Rainier National Park.  The two defendants, residents of the Enumclaw, Washington area, appeared in federal court yesterday.  JAMIE DAVID SPAIN, 39, and DAWN MARIE GALE, 44, are both 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 2011, 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 gear and equipment.  The car was parked at the Crystal Lakes Trailhead on Saturday evening August 20.  A park ranger kept the vehicle under surveillance.  At about 6 AM Sunday morning, 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 SPAIN broke the window on the car.  Then SPAIN removed all the valuables, even checking the trunk for more.  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.

“I commend the excellent law enforcement efforts of the U.S. Park Rangers and the NPS Special Agent here at Mount Rainier, along with our partner agencies including the U.S. Forest Service and the King County Sheriff's Department, for their concerted efforts to apprehend the suspects and safely gather evidence for this case,” said Chief Ranger Chuck Young.  “However, the arrest of these individuals will not necessarily end the problem of car burglaries in the park.  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 yourself is available here:

            If convicted the defendants face up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

            The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations.  A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. 

            The case is being investigated by the National Park Service.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Patricia Lally.



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