TWIN FALLS • Police say a woman stole instruments worth thousands of dollars and sold them for about $200 in scrap.
Laura Mitchell, 28, of Spokane, Wash., was arrested May 12 and charged with burglary, felony theft by possession of stolen property and failure to provide proof of vehicle insurance.
On March 11, Gerald Green came to the police station to file a report for a burglary in the 700 block of Main Avenue South in Twin Falls, where he said he was using the property to store belongings.
Green told police the house's glass door was broken and several items were stolen, including two tubas, a trombone and two 6-foot-tall lamps, Twin Falls city spokesman Joshua Palmer said.
Green said one tuba was worth about $1,500, while the other was an antique that he didn’t know the value of. The trombone was worth $1,000 to $2,000, and the lamps $100 each, he told police.
Two days later, Green found out that Pacific Steel Recycling Center had contacted Welch Music to notify them that Mitchell had sold them two tubas for $56, according to the report. Mitchell also told an employee at Pacific Steel that she had a trombone she wanted to sell to a music company because it was in good condition, the report said.
When the employee asked Mitchell where she got the instruments, she said she was cleaning a property and found them there, the report says. The employee made a copy of her driver’s license, and Pacific Steel later turned the tubas over to police.
Brad Irish, a manager at Pacific Steel, told the Times-News it’s not uncommon for the company to get brass instrument parts brought in, but a whole instrument is unusual.
Irish said technology has helped the company cut down on the stolen goods that come through its doors and help police find thieves.
Cameras record each car that comes to sell metal items, and Pacific Steel records the license plate and type of car from each seller. Employees also take copies of the driver’s license.
“If they’re stealing stuff and bringing it in here they’re going to get caught,” Irish said.
According to the police report, Mitchell changed her story several times with police, and she eventually said she found the items in a trash bin behind the residence. When police checked with PSI Waste Systems and Western Waste Services, both companies said they hadn’t put a large trash bin in the area for several years.
Eventually, Mitchell told police she’d sold the trombone to Dunkley’s Music in Boise for $150, the report said. Police said the store stopped the check before it was cashed.