It was a gray, overcast day in unincorporated Thurston County when detectives Mitch King and Corey Johnson walked the perimeter of a dilapidated white house.
The house is within sight of Interstate 5 with a tarp covering a section of the roof. A sign nailed to a tree says “No trespassing” and “Private property surveillance protected, no soliciting, no parking, guard dog and owner with rabies, no exceptions.”
A woman answered the door. She told police the man they were searching for wasn’t there.
“The car was sitting there and it’s warm, so we knew he just got there,” King said.
After some time and asking the right questions, the officers were able to search the home. It turned out 42-year-old suspect Shanon Meadors was inside after all.
“We found him all balled up in the attic,” King said. “We put a Tazer laser up to him and he finally crawled out. … Someone gave him a heads-up so he ran upstairs and hid.”
Meadors is accused of stealing more than 1,000 gallons of gas from Thurston County businesses, siphoning it from fuel tanks and U-haul trucks into 55-gallon drums. He remains in the Thurston County Jail, where he is facing charges of first-degree trafficking stolen property and second-degree theft.
The pair of detectives are members of the fledgling Regional Investigative Team focused on cracking down on property crime in Thurston County.
The Regional Investigative Team involves detectives from Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater police departments and the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office. The program started in early January.
After a 90-day trial period resulting in 24 felony arrests; six misdemeanor arrests; and the recovery of four cars, a stump grinder, 17 firearms, credit cards, jewelry, and other stolen property, it was agreed to continue the program for another three months.
Since early March, the task force has made 10 more arrests and recovered more stolen property, including four motorcycles, electronics and fuel.
“I think we are doing good,” said sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Brady. “I think those first three months were more focused on trying to get our foot in the door, getting out and making lots of contacts.
“The last couple of months we have kind of narrowed our focus.”
The combined resources of the task force have made the detectives’ efforts more effective, Brady said.
“It’s helping to show more of a focus that we are out there, we are looking for these people that are committing property crimes and people that are trafficking property,” Brady said.
Most of the arrests are for burglary, robbery, fraud and theft, and often lead to additional arrests.
The challenge is the detectives working the cases still have a full day’s work to handle back at the station.
“We still have to handle our normal case load,” said King, who was involved in the investigation of a murder on Sunset Beach Drive earlier this month.
Still, task force members push to meet at least two to three times a week.
There is no extra funding going into the regional task force, though Brady said they are working on grant applications.
“We still don’t have any funding at this point,” Brady said. “This is just individuals funded by their own particular departments.”
The task force will be re-evaluated in June.
Chelsea Krotzer: 360-754-5476