GOLD BEACH andndash; A report of a woman sleeping inside a home where she didn't belong a week ago has so far resulted in the solving of a rash of burglaries and the arrest of four people with other suspects under investigation, Sheriff John Bishop said Friday.
"Deputy Jared Gray responded to the residence at 94001 Wedderburn Loop Road and located the woman inside sleeping," Bishop said. "Deputy Gray's investigation into this situation found that several persons entered this residence, ransacked it and committed crimes therein, stole one vehicle from the garage, and entered another vehicle."
That investigation resulted not only in the arrest of the woman on burglary and other charges, but also led to the arrest of other people for crimes that occurred at this residence and at several other locations in Central Curry County over the past couple of months, the sheriff said.
Arrested thus far on charges related to that burglary are William Matthew Nicholls, 28; Katie Lynn Harwell, 29; Danielle Marie Alsup, 28; and Christopher Lee Chase, 33.
Nicholls is charged with first-degree burglary, unlawful use of a motor vehicle, unlawful entry into a motor vehicle, criminal trespass and criminal mischief.
Harwell is charged with first-degree burglary, possession of methamphetamine, criminal trespass and criminal mischief, as well as being held on three Douglas County arrest warrants.
Alsup is charged with first-degree burglary, criminal trespass and criminal mischief.
Chase is charged with unlawful use of a motor vehicle.
All four are currently lodged in the Curry County jail.
Bishop said that under the direction of Sheriff's Lt. John Ward, several burglary and theft cases taken by the Sheriff's Office since June were solved using the leads developed in the Wedderburn Loop burglary investigation.
The sheriff said the investigations began with Gray's case on Aug. 11 continued through Aug. 15, and the cases remain open as more evidence and information is being sought and collected.
"Search warrants were served at multiple locations over the past few days and stolen property was recovered at multiple sites," Bishop said. "Evidence of methamphetamine and other drug use was seized."
Besides the Wedderburn Loop Road burglary, Bishop said a second burglary at 38576 Highway 101 in the Humbug area was solved.
"In that case several hundred items were reported as stolen with value exceeding $7,000," Bishop said. "Theft cases where metal guard rails were taken from two separate locations were also solved."
He said other recent crimes in Central Curry County are being looked at for connections to those arrests.
"In particular, at least three Gold Beach Police Department cases are likely to be solved from these investigative efforts," Bishop said.
Nicholls has been charged with first-degree burglary for the Humbug area burglary and is facing first-degree theft charges for the theft of metal guard rails from a roadside location on Eighty Acres Road and from the ODOT Supply Yard at Hunter Creek.
"The Curry County Sheriff's Office has been heavily involved over the past several months investigating what appear to be multiple extensive burglary/theft rings," Bishop said. "We have recovered loads of stolen property, made many arrests, and reunited victims with lots of property. We've solved many cases in North Curry County, Central, and South county as well."
He said the sheriff's investigations have led to information that helps the city police departments in Brookings, Gold Beach, and Port Orford solve their open cases.
"We don't have many deputies to accomplish this work, but we manage to get a lot done and will continue to do so as long as we have the funding to keep these deputies working," Bishop said.
"There remain many unsolved cases, and many victims have yet to receive any satisfaction," the sheriff said.
"We need the public's help. Each time we break one of these burglary/theft rings, it starts with one piece of information that we follow and develop and expand on," Bishop said. "We can even start with anonymous information as our first lead."
He said anyone with information about crimes or other suspicious activity in any part of the county is requested to contact the Sheriff's Office at 541-247-3242 or 800-543-8471. People wishing to remain anonymous can call Curry County Crime Stoppers at 888-974-0000.
Crime Stoppers is a private nonprofit entity that partners with law enforcement and specializes in collecting crime information from anonymous citizens and gives cash rewards to those folks who provide information that leads to arrest and conviction of the people responsible.
Anonymous citizens are able to collect these cash rewards without revealing their identities.