Car-stealing, Tater-Tot burner accused in Whidbey burglaries

A 29-year-old Longview resident was accused last summer of taking a taxi from Tacoma to South Whidbey, fleeing without paying and then going on a home-burglarizing, Tater-Tot-burning, car-stealing crime spree, court documents indicate.

Prosecutors finally charged Michael Gemar in Island County Superior Court March 7 with two counts of residential burglary, one count of taking a motor vehicle without permission in the second degree and one count third-degree theft.

The judge signed an order to transport Gemar from the Washington Corrections Center to Island County Jail. Deputy Prosecutor David Carman explained that the crime lab performed fingerprint and other analysis for the case, which delayed charging.

According to court documents, the unusual series of events leading to the charges began in the evening of July 9, 2010.

A taxi driver reported that she had driven a man, later identified as Gemar, from Tacoma to Mukilteo to get a pickup out of impound. When he was unsuccessful, he talked the taxi driver into taking him to Clinton, where he claimed to have a rich uncle who could pay the $248.75 fare. But once they got to Whidbey Island, he ran off.

The deputies searched the area of Columbia Beach for Gemar, but were unable to find him.

The next day, a man who was caretaker of a home in the area went to mow the lawn and found the riding lawnmower was missing. He walked up the street and found Gemar sitting on it. Gemar claimed he thought he had permission to borrow it, but the man retrieved it and went back to the house to mow.

While the man was mowing, Gemar walked up to him and asked if he needed help. He declined and told Gemar to get off the property. A little while later, he saw Gemar driving away in his Honda Accord, the report states.

The deputies who responded to the car theft found that two houses in the area had been burglarized.

In one home, the deputies found prescription pill bottles and syringes on the floor, along with empty bottles of liquor. The burglar had apparently taken a bath and left the tub full.

In a second house, deputies found more syringes, as well as burnt Tater Tots on the stove, soup poured on the counter and pop spilled on a table.

While the deputies were responding to the burglaries, the Mukilteo police called and said the stolen car was in a hit-and-run accident involving a pedestrian.

Shortly afterward, a trooper with the Washington State Patrol stopped Gemar for speeding in the car on Interstate 5 near Seattle, but he let him go because the stolen information system hadn’t been entered into the computer system, court documents state.


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