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Fishing Pole Helps Solve Missoula Vehicle Break-in Mystery


Photo courtesy of BohemianDolls/Flickr

Good sleuthing skills gave Missoula County Sheriff’s Detective David Walrod and Mineral County Game Warden Justin Singleterry the upper hand as they tracked down a thief that had broken into at least nine vehicles in multiple counties.


Suspect 23-year-old John Wheeler and a female accomplice (age 21) were tracked down through a variety of methods that started with a fishing pole. The suspect had tried to sell the pole to a local pawn shop but the pawnshop owner turned around and called deputy Walrod giving him Wheeler’s information.


Further evidence was gathered by careful tracking of credit card transactions. By noting the times and dates of the transactions, Walrod was able to use surveillance footage to get an image of the suspect.
Missoula County Public information officer Jason Johnson explains the investigation techniques in detail:

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Both Walrod and Singleterry followed GPS signals sent by stolen cell phones to a home in Lolo where they met up and realized they were chasing the same suspect.

Johnson says the female accomplice was “cooperative in the interview process” and that “a confession was obtained.” Wheeler, on the other hand, had to be arrested.

Both suspects face the following charges:

-Felony Theft from a Motor Vehicle (for taking items from vehicles valued in excess of $1500)

-Felony Forgery (for writing checks from victim checkbooks)

-Trespass to Motor Vehicle (A misdemeanor)

-Deceptive Practices (For using victim credit cards, a misdemeanor)

The total count of charges is unknown at this point and at the discretion of the County Attorneys Office.


Photo courtesy of Jason Johnson



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