Police arrest 2 in suspected theft ring off Hiland Road

Wednesday, October 11, 2017 - 13:33

Numerous complaints about a property off Hiland Road resulted in a bust police believe could be linked to numerous vehicle and other thefts.

According to Anchorage Police Department spokesman MJ Thim, police were called just before midnight on Sept. 26 for a report of “suspicious activity.” When officers arrived at the scene, Thim said they saw a white GMC with no license plate pulling a large white trailer with no taillights or license plate out of a driveway on Stonehill Drive. Police stopped the vehicle, and as they were running a background check on the truck, a man on a motorcycle drove down the driveway.

“A motorcyclist comes out from the same residential property and asks, ‘What are you guys doing,’” Thim said.

What police were doing was busting up what they say could be a major stolen car ring, as Thim said both the truck and motorcycle turned out to be stolen. When police obtained a warrant and searched the property, Thim said they found even more stolen items.

“What we ended up finding at this location was multiple stolen vehicles, multiple stolen items,” he said.

Thim said the case remains under investigation.

“We’re considering this location for a theft ring,” he said.

The driver of the truck, Stevenson Alo, 29, was arrested at the scene, as was the motorcyclist, 34-year-old Navy Tauinaola. Each man was charged with one count of felony vehicle theft and one count of driving while license cancelled/revoked/suspended for DUI. Tauinaola was released on $1,500 bail and Alo was released on $750 bail; both men are scheduled to appear in court Oct. 17 for pre-indictment hearings.

Other people at the scene and in the truck were not arrested, but Thim said the case is ongoing.

“This has the potential to be linked to multiple stolen vehicle investigations and vehicle tampering investigations,” he said.

Among the items found on the property were vehicles, generators, electronics, check books and credit cards.

“This was a dumping ground for multiple stolen items,” he said.

Thim said the rental property where the stolen items were found is well known to police. In the past year alone, APD received at least eight calls about the property, which triggered an investigation by the department’s Community Action Policing (CAP) team, as well as a letter to the property owners.

“Because it had reached a certain threshold of eight or more it was considered an excessive level,” he said.

After a property owner is notified of the excessive complaints, Thim said they have 30 days to remedy the problem of face fines of up to $2,000. One of the ways to remedy the problem is to evict problem tenants, which Thim said the landlords — Eric and Lynetta Marcellus — were in the process of doing. Court records show Eric Marcellus filed to evict Tauinaola and two other people on Sept. 1.

Thim said calls from neighbors were crucial in breaking the case.

“The neighbors have been upset about the activity going on at this residential home,” he said.

The multiple nuisance calls in a short time triggered a more intensive investigation and the eventual arrests, he said.

“We need the public’s help in solving crimes and we’re always asking them to call us,” he said.

Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at editor@alaskastar.com

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