‘Smash-n-grab’ burglary leads to pursuit, no arrest | TahoeDailyTribune.com

‘Smash-n-grab’ burglary leads to pursuit, no arrest

Gregory Crofton

A shattered car window, a stolen purse and eyewitnesses led police to a traffic stop at Kyburz Avenue and U.S. Highway 50 Tuesday morning.

Witnesses said two white men, one very large, drove from the scene in a red or maroon Mustang II with no rear license plate.

Minutes after the 9:30 a.m. car burglary, a deputy from El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department stopped a brown AMC Eagle headed for Meyers on U.S. Highway 50. A male passenger was handcuffed, as was his 13-year-old daughter, a passenger in the car.

South Lake Tahoe Police conducted an in-field lineup standing the suspects at the side of the road so another patrolman could drive by with the witnesses hidden by his Explorer’s darkened windows.

But law enforcement had the wrong people. This car didn’t have a rear license plate because it had just been purchased and the owners were in the process of having it registered.

“I know it’s a little scary,” Sgt. Steve O’Brien said to the man and girl, as he unlocked the handcuffs.

After the ordeal the girl embraced her father for several minutes.

“It was totally not the people,” O’Brien said. “This is just another dry run.”

The stop conducted by law enforcement is called a “felony stop.” South Lake Tahoe Police Officer Chuck Owens, a spokesperson for his department said the father and daughter handled the event well. “It’s a traumatic experience,” said Owens. “They were very understanding of the process.”

Before the stop near Kyburz Avenue, police stopped another reddish Mustang-like vehicle at U.S. Highway 50 and Lodi Avenue. No luck there either.

The car burglarized Tuesday was parked outside a McDonald’s near Stateline. Monday another purse was stolen from a car outside of Time Out Health Spa & Fitness. A week before that a car parked outside Carrows Restaurant had a window broken and was burglarized.

South Lake Tahoe Police Officer Terry Daniels said in all three cases the thief broke into the vehicles looking for cash.

“All of the break-ins occurred in early morning about 8:30 to 9 a.m.,” he said. “Targets have been purses or briefcases left in plain view.”

Anyone with information about the crimes is asked to call Secret Witness at (530) 541-6800.

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