Boise Police Department
News Release

Michael F. Masterson
Chief of Police


Contact: Lynn Hightower
Communications Director
570-6180

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, April 20, 2009

04-20-09 Boise Police make Arrests in Major Commercial Burglary Case

04-20-09 Boise Police make Arrests in Major Commercial Burglary Case

    Boise, April 20, 2009 - Boise Police have arrested three people in a major commercial burglary case. The case involving thefts from at least 40 Treasure Valley businesses over the past five months.

    Arrested: Shawn G. Smith, 23, Boise

    Charges: 4 Cts. Burglary (F), Felony Parole Violation

    Arrested: Jennifer M. Johnson, 34, Boise

    Charges: 4 cts Aiding and Abetting (F)(the Burglary charge listed by her name on the Ada Sheriff's web site is being amended), Felony Parole Violation 

    Arrested: Chad G. Lawrence, 30, Boise

    Charges: 4 Cts. Burglary (F), Felony Parole Violation

    

    Additional Charges Likely: The current charges reflect business burglaries reported this weekend. Officers say additional charges are likely pending further investigation. Boise Police detectives say they have evidence linking Smith and Johnson to approx. 40 commercial (business) burglaries that have occurred around the Treasure Valley since late October. Suspect Lawrence is believed to be connected to the burglaries this weekend as two other instances. All cases are still under investigation.

    The Suspects: Suspects Smith and Lawrence are roommates who live in a west Boise trailer home park. Suspect Smith was released from the Idaho State Penitentiary in October, where he was incarcerated on Burglary charges out of Kootenai County.

    Background: Boise Police Property Crimes detectives began noticing an increase in commercial burglaries in late October into early November. 

    Method of Entry: Most of the burglaries had similar methods of entry; suspects would use a tool to pry or break open a back door or window after business hours. 

    Items Stolen: The thieves stole safes, cash, and property from the businesses, as well as privately owned ATM's (not bank ATM's, but the type often found in other businesses or entertainment venues). Detectives estimate losses to businesses from cash and property into the tens of thousands of dollars.

    Businesses Targeted: Businesses targeted included bars, restaurants, beauty salons, oil change shops, fast food restaurants, charity thrift stores, and recycling centers. The suspects burglarized businesses from eastern Ada County to Nampa. 

    The Investigation: After weeks of investigation, involving cooperation of numerous police agencies, including Nampa and Garden City Police, Boise Police detectives began to identify possible suspects after a suspicious vehicle was seen on surveillance video outside one of the victim businesses. 

    The Arrests: Boise Police began to conduct surveillance on the suspects. Late this past Saturday night, into Sunday morning, April 18th and 19th, officers saw the suspects Smith and Johnson unload a rented U-haul full of furniture and other items into a State St. storage unit. At the time, officers had no report of stolen furniture.

    Later Sunday, Boise Police responded to four businesses on Fairview Ave. after owners and employees reported overnight burglaries. Detectives quickly realized the items stolen were the same items, including the furniture, they had watched being unloaded at the storage unit. 

    Boise Police Detectives went back to the storage unit, where the suspects Smith and Johnson were taking digital photos of the items inside. Both suspects were immediately taken into custody and placed under arrest. 

    Suspect Lawrence was also arrested at a nearby storage unit later Sunday. 

    Recovered Items: Boise Police Property Crimes Detectives believe they have recovered a large percentage of the stolen items, mainly from inside the storage unit, but also from the suspect Smith's and Lawrence's residence, where officers served a search warrant late Sunday. 

    Inside the storage unit, officers could also plainly see what looked like parts of a smashed ATM machine. They also found televisions, computers and printers, furniture, paintings and home decor items, and beauty supplies. Officers have matched the stolen items with the victim businesses. 

    Selling items Online: Boise Police detectives believe the suspects intended to sell much of the stolen property online. Officers believe when they caught up with the suspects, the digital photos the suspects were taking were to be posted online looking for potential buyers. Detectives do believe some of the items stolen at businesses since last October has already been sold via the internet.