Suspected serial burglar arrested thanks to residents' tips
Alert residents of Prescott Canyon Estates who saw a woman casing their neighborhood called the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office, and detectives later linked her to a string of burglaries in Prescott, Chino Valley, the Yavapai College campus and other areas of Yavapai County, said Dwight D'Evelyn, spokesman for the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office.
"These alert residents provided deputies with a description of the woman, her 1999 red Ford Explorer, and provided them with a license plate number, which was critical," D'Evelyn said.
Chino Valley police arrested Michelle Brown, 34, of Prescott on June 3 on charges of burglary after a resident of a home on Jackrabbit Trail found Brown inside her home, D'Evelyn said.
"Brown told her she was there searching for her lost dog," D'Evelyn said.
An officer booked Brown into the Yavapai County Jail in Camp Verde on charges of four counts of second-degree burglary, aggravated taking the identification of another, possession/use of dangerous drugs, possession/use of marijuana, possession/use of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony, and two counts of possession/use of drug paraphernalia.
"There will likely be additional charges as the investigation grows and we verify other victims," D'Evelyn said.
Brown remains in custody on a $40,000 bond, D'Evelyn said.
Residents of Prescott Canyon Estates told detectives when they saw Brown walking alone around their neighborhood, she told them she was looking for a home to buy for her grandmother, but residents viewed her actions as suspicious and called the Sheriff's Office, D'Evelyn said.
"She was checking for unlocked doors and stealing items from homes," D'Evelyn said. "If she saw a person working in their yard, she'd wait until they were out of sight, then slip in the house to steal a purse."
Detectives recovered a number of stolen items including a laptop, several ID cards, cash, a firearm and a large amount of jewelry, including a ring appraised at $20,000 by a jeweler in Prescott, D'Evelyn said.
Many recovered jewelry items have not been identified or associated with particular victims, so detectives are concerned there are some victims who may not realize their property is missing, D'Evelyn said.
Detectives ask for the public's help in locating victims and identifying the property. Contact Det. Sgt. Daniel Raiss at 928-771-3278 if you have information.