SPD Catches Real-Life Grinch

Ofc. Winston Brooks

Tuesday, December 1, 2020 at 3:42 p.m.

SPD Patrol Anti-Crime Team (PACT) and Downtown Neighborhood Resource Officers (NRO) make an arrest in the “Real-Life Christmas Tree Grinch” theft case.

On November 27, 2020, River Ridge Hardware reported a burglary to the Spokane Police Department. The burglary occurred at 3:30am as the store security video surveillance captured the incident. Approximately 50 Christmas trees were stolen off the property, packed into a trailer and hauled off with no clue who the thief aka “Grinch” was. River Ridge Hardware posted a message (below) along with the video surveillance to their social media page asking the public for any information that would assist Spokane Police with the investigation.  

“While our staff was enjoying family time with their loved ones yesterday someone came and stole 50 Christmas trees from this store. If anyone sees someone selling a small amount of trees from Craigslist or the side of the road will you please take a picture and report it to us and police? Often cases like this do not get solved unless there is help from people like you!

We are saddened that 50 families don’t get our trees now but we hope you still come by and support our small business. #SupportSmallBusiness

On 11/30/2020, after reading the above post, PACT and NRO Officers began investigating the incident. Working off the surveillance video, their investigation lead to the arrest of Eli P. Vansickle (43) and the recovery of the Christmas trees.

PACT members located Eli in Deer Park, WA and took him into custody. During the initial interview, Eli informed Officers that the trailer used in the burglary was in the City of Spokane at a specific location. The trailer was later located and still inside, the stolen Christmas trees.

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