29° F
Coeur d'Alene
23° F

Former realty agent busted stealing from homes for sale

Published On: Jul 05 2013 08:06:26 PM CDT   Updated On: Jul 05 2013 08:54:06 PM CDT
Derek Larson
SPOKANE, Wash. -

A former Spokane realty agent is in jail after turning to a life of crime and breaking into homes that were for sale.

Derek Larson, 40, has been charged with four felony counts of theft or burglary. During his court appearance a judge set Larson's bail at $75,000.

The Spokane Police Department's Patrol Anti-Crime Team had Larson under surveillance when they followed him to a home and watched him walk out with a handful of art. The Spokane County Sheriff's Office, meanwhile, was already after him for several burglaries in their jurisdiction.

Detectives say Larson is a former real estate agent who used his home sales experience to become a crafty burglar. He reportedly looked for homes on the market that were vacant and that gave him the time to cut open the lock boxes that held the keys to the property.

"He would find houses that were for sale, he would attack the lock boxes and then gain entry into the house," Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said.

Investigators say once inside, Larson worked at his leisure removing copper pipe or, in the case of a home on 29th Avenue, a dishwasher. Detectives think Larson also targeted an estate in Greenacres, stealing a range, refrigerator and a trash compactor. The property stolen was worth nearly $10,000.

"When you steal appliances from a house, it's just like any other stolen item -- you fence it and you can make money from doing that," Knezovich said.

Detectives think Larson stashed his loot in one of several storage units. A combination of information from confidential informants and a traffic stop made on Larson's van back in May led to his arrest.

"All the information that comes in from the field is analyzed. It's shared with investigators and it's what ultimately broke this case. This was great police work, both from the Spokane Police Department side and the Spokane County Sheriff's Office side," Knezovich said.