As of Monday, September 11, 2017
SUNNYSIDE Police have made an arrest in what may be a gang-related car theft ring operating in the area.
Charley E. Birch, 23, was arrested last Thursday at Travel Inn, 724 Yakima Valley Highway, by officers investigating a stolen Chevy Malibu.
He appeared in Yakima County Superior Court in Yakima last Friday.
Birch is charged with possession of a stolen vehicle, court records show.
According to a police report, police detectives were in the parking lot of the motel when they saw a man they believed to be smoking marijuana out of a bong.
As detectives approached the man, Birch allegedly exited a nearby car and took a backpack with him to a motel room, court records show. Suspicious of the coincidence, they ran the license plate of the vehicle.
Dispatch advised detectives the license plate was stolen, court records show. So, they checked the vehicle identification number, or VIN, and found it too, was stolen out of Yakima.
A detective went to Room 125 and knocked on the door, court records show. Birch answered and identified himself.
After detectives arrested Birch for possession of the stolen vehicle, they obtained a search warrant for the motel room and found the backpack contained “numerous shave keys” typically used in car thefts, records show.
Birch told detectives he didn’t know the car was stolen and that he didn’t know who had stolen it, although he confirmed he had been inside it, records show.
Birch further told police that the car was driven to the motel by “ESP” gang members “George” and “Wicked,” records show.