Tuesday May 05 2009
Teen foursome arrested for stealing from Auburn bike shops
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
Group of suspects accumulated $25,000 in stolen merchandise
An Auburn business owner is hoping at the end of the week he’ll recover his stolen inventory a teen couple and their young accomplices took. Shon Garten, owner of Off-Axis Boardshop off Highway 49 was one of two Auburn merchants hit by a foursome of teens who stole an estimated $25,000 worth in motorbikes and merchandise from Auburn and Grass Valley businesses over the weekend. Garten said he was surprised by the four alleged thieves’ boldness because the 4-by-6-foot window they smashed to enter his building is in plain view on Highway 49. “That particular window is right there for the whole world to see,” Garten said Tuesday. The break-in at Garten’s shop early Saturday morning was one in a string of burglaries the four teens are accused of committing. It wasn’t until early Sunday morning that 18-year-old Colfax resident Lee Courtney Wills and his girlfriend, 18-year-old Brittany Rae Kaspick of Grass Valley were arrested during another attempted burglary, according to Sgt. Steve Johnson of the Grass Valley Police Department. A 17-year-old male and 14-year-old male, both Weimar residents and Kaspick’s cousins, were also arrested Sunday. The 17-year-old was booked into Nevada County juvenile hall while the 14-year-old was taken to Placer County juvenile hall, Johnson said. The four teens are charged with stealing expensive merchandise from Garten’s store, including about 11 watches and a wakeboard, worth an estimated total of about $2,500 to $3,000. OTD Cycle Sports, also located off Highway 49 in Auburn, was another local business that the group is accused of burglarizing. A 50cc motorcycle worth about $1,400 was taken from the store as well as helmets, gloves and parts, according to Dan Lebson, vice president of dealer operations at OTD Cycle Sports in Auburn. The glass front door to the parts division was also broken. The arrest The capture of the four teens occurred on an early and rainy Sunday morning when an alarm was set off at about 4:55 a.m. at a Grass Valley motorcycle shop on Brunswick Road. When police arrived on scene, they could see figures in the distance pushing a motorcycle. When the teens realized they had been spotted, Wills reportedly jumped onto the $3,500 dirt bike they took from the shop and took off down the road heading out of Grass Valley toward Colfax, Johnson said. Kaspick and the 17-year-old male climbed into her white sport utility vehicle and followed Wills. As police closed in on the group, they were able to pull over Kaspick in her SUV, but Wills continued on Brunswick Road and eventually eluded the patrolman chasing him. A little while later, the bike was located, crashed on the side of the road, but there was no sign or sight of Wills. About an hour later, law enforcement received a phone call from Kaspick’s parents, Johnson said. Wills had shown up at their front door, soaking wet and injured, Johnson said. The parents called police and Wills was arrested and later treated for an injury to his ankle. Johnson estimated that Wills walked about a mile from the site of the dirt bike to Kaspick’s parents’ house. Johnson said after the arrest, authorities were able to connect the 14-year-old male to the crime. Authorities reportedly found items connecting the teens to the OTD robbery in Kaspick’s SUV. They also later located the bikes stolen from OTD and also a $13,000 custom-made Honda motorcycle stolen from another Grass Valley shop at a fifth party’s residence. Johnson said the owner of the home is not under investigation and said it appeared he did not realize the teens were using stolen merchandise. Johnson said the four teens were riding the motorcycles on the man’s property in Weimar. “They said they wanted to ride the bikes and have fun and keep them,” Johnson said. “Apparently they didn’t have plans to sell or part them out. They just wanted to ride for themselves.” In the end, Johnson said they’ve collected three stolen motorcycles, multiple items of merchandise and one can of gas that the teens allegedly took from a Grass Valley paintball store so they could fill up the motorcycles. Johnson estimated that the tally of items added up to about $25,000. Johnson said the crime spree was unusual. “This is kind of rare where someone is committing multiple thefts of high-dollar items in a short period of time,” Johnson said. Garten said it’s the first time his store has been broken into in the four years he’s been open. “This is a first for me,” Garten said. “And hopefully the last.” Lee Courtney Wills, 18, of Colfax, remains in custody on $10,000 bail at Nevada County Jail on the following charges: - Recklessly evading a police officer - Two counts of theft and unlawfully taking or driving of a vehicle - Three counts of burglary - Criminal conspiracy Brittany Rae Kaspick, 18, of Grass Valley, was released on $10,000 bail from Nevada County Jail. She is charged with: - Two counts of criminal conspiracy - Two counts of burglary - Two counts of receiving known stolen property The Journal’s Jenifer Gee can be reached at email@example.com or post a comment.