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Deputies track snow footprints for 1.9 miles to catch suspected burglar

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Footprint map courtesy Pierce County Sheriff's Office

SPANAWAY, Wash. — Pierce County deputies have had to deal with challenging conditions because of record-breaking snowfall, but today they have the snow to thank for helping to nab a suspected burglar.

According to the sheriff’s office, deputies responded about 2:30 a.m. to a reported home invasion on 27th Avenue Ct. E near Spanaway.

While deputies were en route to the woman’s home, the victim told dispatchers that the suspect entered her bedroom and ran away when she yelled for him to get out.

Deputies spotted fresh footprints in the snow when they arrived, as there was more than 12 inches of snow on the ground. It was still snowing when they got there.

That’s when deputies began to follow the footprints, heading eastbound and over a fence, then northbound to Military Road.

Along the way, deputies spotted several items stolen from the victim’s house, including a laptop computer, purse, checkbook, and suitcase.

The footprints continued eastbound toward 32nd Avenue East, up a ladder and over another fence, then north along Waller Road.

Then, they continued across yards and over several fences on 163rd St. E., 161st St. E., and 158th St. Ct. E.

The footprints changed direction and headed southwest across Waller Road before circling back and heading northeast to 156th St. E., where deputies contacted several residents who reported motion lights being activated and seeing someone running behind a large garage at 156th and Waller Road.

At 3:37 a.m. deputies spotted a set of fresh footprints that led to a vehicle under a tarp; there were only footprints heading to the vehicle but none heading away.

The deputies yelled at the suspect to come out, but after receiving no response the deputies tore off the tarp and found a man lying in the back seat of the car. The suspect refused to exit, so deputies reached through the open the car window and pulled him out; the suspect refused to identify himself, deputies said.

The suspect was found in possession of a small knife, a flashlight, three garage door openers, and the burglary victim’s wallet. He was also wearing shoes with treads that matched the footprints in the snow.

The 28-year-old man was booked into the Pierce County Jail for two counts of burglary, one count of vehicle prowling and resisting arrest.

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