Deputy uses game camera to help find burglary suspects

A Grays Harbor Sheriff’s deputy set up a camera of the type hunters use to keep an eye on game and used it to stake out an area where stolen property had been stashed, leading him to three burglary suspects.

Two of the suspects, Brandon C. Craig, 25, of Ocean Shores, and Mitchell T. Staggs, 20, of Elma, both accused of several burglaries in the Copalis Rock development in Copalis Beach, pleaded not guilty Monday in Grays Harbor Superior Court.

Deputy Bob Wilson was dispatched to a burglary call at about 11 p.m. on Aug. 30, and while canvassing the neighborhood, discovered four more that hadn’t been reported, as well as one unreported attempted burglary.

Undersheriff Dave Pimentel said Wilson found some property taken from the burglaries hidden off hiking trails nearby.

“He set up a game camera on some of the stolen property that had been hidden, and with the pictures he got that had been taken by the game camera and also from a cell phone that had been left at one of the burglaries, he was able to identify three suspects,” Pimentel said.

Using the cameras like that isn’t part of any standard department protocol, he added. “It was his own idea and it was a darn good one,” Pimentel said.

Wilson was also dispatched to an interrupted burglary in the same neighborhood where the owner found a smart phone in his linen closet. Wilson traced the phone back to Craig.

The Sheriff’s Office said that during interviews, Craig implicated Staggs and a 37-year-old Hoquiam woman. She was arrested but charges have not yet been filed.

The majority of the stolen property from the Copalis Rock homes has been recovered and returned.

Craig is held in Grays Harbor County Jail with $10,000 bail, and Staggs is held with $15,000 bail.