Wrong Lake Stevens man arrested in car theft

EVERETT — Subarus seem to be the suspect’s favorite.

He might have thought he was off the hook. Police had arrested someone else at first.

Last week, a 21-year-old man from Lake Stevens was accused of stealing a Subaru, leading police on a chase and ramming into a detective’s car. The detective suffered a sprained neck, according to court documents.

The stolen Subaru later was found burned.

The Lake Stevens man denied any connection to the crimes, and he passed a polygraph.

When detectives reviewed surveillance footage from local businesses near where the car was ditched, they determined they had arrested the wrong man. The 21-year-old suspect and the man in the video looked the same, for the most part.

But they had distinctly different chins.

The 21-year-old was asked to watch the video footage. The tape showed a man pouring gasoline inside the car and setting it ablaze.

He said he knew the man on the tape and provided a name. Though no longer a suspect in the Everett case, he remains in jail on unrelated offenses.

The new suspect, 25, also of Lake Stevens, was arrested Wednesday for investigation of car theft, second-degree arson and assault.

The 25-year-old told police he has been involved in the thefts of as many as nine Subarus recently, according to a probable cause affidavit.

The trouble began when a stolen Subaru was spotted being driven around north Everett on Dec. 13.

An Everett police officer started following the car, which already had been reported stolen. As the officer’s car and the Subaru approached the 41st Street overpass, police converged on the area. The Subaru took off. Before the I-5 onramp, it reportedly slammed into a detective’s car in the right lane.

The man, who had his girlfriend as a passenger, drove south to a restaurant on 19th Avenue SE. There, they left the stolen Subaru in the parking lot and went to a nearby grocery store down the road, where they reportedly stole another Subaru, detectives said.

Three hours later, they stopped by a 7-11 and bought about $5 worth of gasoline. Surveillance footage showed a man filling up a red can.

Moments later, the first Subaru, the one used in the pursuit, was set on fire.

Reporter Rikki King contributed to this story.

Caitlin Tompkins: 425-339-3192; ctompkins@heraldnet.com.

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