Technology trips up burglary suspect ‘Uncle Thieve’

EVERETT — Police say technology and loose lips led to the arrest of a burglary suspect who reportedly called himself “Uncle Thieve.”

Steven Espitia, 31, is accused of kicking in the front door and ransacking a Mukilteo home in August. He allegedly tried to sell some of the ill-gotten gains to a former sister-in-law.

When offering up a laptop, the Everett man made reference to seeing some Air Jordan sports shoes in the home he allegedly had broken into. He reportedly promised the woman’s daughter and two sons that he would get them iPhones and tablets.

“He said, ‘They don’t call him ‘Uncle Thieve’ for nothing,’” a Snohomish County deputy sheriff wrote in a report.

“At one point, he asked (the woman) if she had any special requests while he was out and said he could get her anything she wanted,” the deputy wrote.

The homeowners reported that computers, collector coins, jewelry, passports, ammunition, medication and documents — including wills and birth certificates — were stolen.

The investigation was aided by GPS tracking software installed in a laptop. When the computer was turned on, it notified the homeowner’s cell phone of its location.

A Snohomish County sheriff’s deputy retrieved the laptop. Many of the items the victims reported missing matched goods the woman saw in the trunk of the suspect’s car.

Court papers show that Espitia has a lengthy criminal history and at least one other moniker — “Roach.”

His last pinch came after police recovered hundreds of stolen items at an Edmonds motel in July. The goods were believed to have been taken during a rash of car break-ins and burglaries in south Snohomish and north King counties. Some of the break-ins occurred while parishioners were attending a church service.

When Edmonds police developed leads and confronted Espitia at Andy’s Motel, he barricaded himself in a bathroom and allegedly told the officers he had a gun and would kill anyone who tried to come in, according to court papers. The 22-minute standoff ended when he surrendered. Roughly 20 officers, including a hostage negotiator, responded to the original threat.

Espitia later was charged with harassment. He’s still a suspect in the case involving the stolen goods, Edmonds police Sgt. Mark Marsh said.

He was out of jail awaiting trial when he was arrested on the new charges.

Espitia was sentenced to prison in 2002 and 2008 after burglary convictions.

In 2007, he passed a deputy sheriff while driving a car more than 100 mph on I-5. When the officer tried to pull him over, he maintained his speed before slamming on his brakes and crossing over several lanes, nearly striking the deputy’s car. When he later was arrested after abandoning the car in a Marysville convenience store parking lot, he told the officer that he knew he had had too much to drink and shouldn’t have been driving. He was convicted of attempting to elude police.

Eric Stevick: 425-399-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com

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