Flathead County Sheriff’s deputies have arrested three teenage boys in connection with several burglaries in the Evergreen area, including a break-in Sunday morning at the Army-Navy store.
Sheriff Chuck Curry said his office received a tip that led to the arrest of a 15-year-old Kalispell boy. Subsequent investigation led to the arrest of two Evergreen-area boys, ages 14 and 15.
Detective Commander Dick Sine said the additional arrests were the result of several pieces of information.
“It was a variety of sources,” Sine said. “It’s kind of like a jigsaw puzzle. Pieces come in, we get a picture and then we know who to go after.”
Sine said the situation is a good example of how cases get solved.
“It should emphasize the absolute importance of people coming forward, which seems like something inconsequential for them, but when we put those pieces together we can get results,” he said. “In this case they did that and it clearly shows.”
Thanks to the tips received so far, the teens also are being charged in connection with thefts and burglaries at Pacific Steel, Flathead Glass Works, Evergreen Subway, Evergreen Gas and Deli, Heads-Up Tobacco, Smoke Haus Emporium and the Evergreen McDonald’s restaurant.
Sine said the first arrest was made within an hour of receiving the initial tip; he indicated that two or three others implicated by information provided to the Sheriff’s Office may soon be arrested. He also said that while officers believe they have identified all the crimes committed by the three youths who were arrested, they could discover more crimes related to other suspects.
As a result of the arrests made so far, several items stolen from the Army-Navy store have been recovered. The value of merchandise stolen during a smash-and-grab crime at 2 a.m. Sunday morning has been estimated at between $12,000 and $15,000.
Army-Navy owner Briar Purdy was pleased with the progress on the case but disappointed with the culprits.
“We’re happy, but at the same time it’s unfortunate that it’s juveniles from the area,” Purdy said. “We thought it was someone from outside the area, so it’s a bittersweet thing.”
Purdy himself received a tip after offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the thieves. That person, he said, gave him names that he passed on to the Sheriff’s Office. He has not yet heard whether or not that information was what initiated any of the three arrests.
Should that turn out to be the case, Purdy will no longer be paying the reward by himself. In a show of solidarity, Snappy Sport Senter owner BJ Lupton has offered to pay half.
“Even though he hasn’t really had any problems lately, he’s had problems in the past,” Purdy said, “and in that corridor we’re all in it together because we’re all subject to what happens at two in the morning.”
The investigation into the property crimes is ongoing, and anyone with further information is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Office at 758-5585.
Reporter Jesse Davis may be reached at 758-4441 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.