Burglary ring uncovered by officer with 'gut feeling'



Parole and Probation Officer Kim Vine said she had a hunch about a man and woman she was supervising - a hunch that led to Timothy Sparacino, 27, and Jeira Polanco, 24, being arrested on more than 40 counts of possessing stolen property.

Vine realized early on that Polanco and Sparacino wouldn't be her easiest cases. Under terms of their probation, imposed after their April 2011 sentencings on theft charges, the couple wasn't supposed to have any contact, but they had been caught together several times.

"I got on their cases for it," said Vine, referring to their contact and the other probation condition: full-time employment. She decided to make a deal with them, if they got full-time jobs and started making payments on the $22,000 they were ordered to pay, she would try to get their no-contact order lifted.

During a traffic stop in October, the couple were together, and Polanco claimed she was pregnant.

If true, Vine knew that meant that the no-contact order would have to be lifted.

The pair were given permission to move in together, if Polanco could prove her pregnancy.

At the end of October, Vine received a phone call. Polanco had slipped and fallen in the shower, onto her stomach.

"The next day he (Sparacino) comes in with the discharge papers. There's not a thing about the pregnancy."

Finally she came in with a doctor's note she later told Vine was a forgery, riddled with spelling and grammar errors.

Polanco also had made substantial restitution payments, despite having no job.

"I had the gut feeling," she said.

Vine arranged for a surprise visit to the couple's apartment.

She and three parole and probation officers arrived at the door on Dec. 11, a day early.

There was a leather couch, dining room table, signed fine art on the walls, even a 55-inch TV. Just a month earlier, the apartment had been nearly bare.

The parole and probation officers started searching the apartment while Vine talked to the couple. The officers found two iPads and a backpack containing jewelry and coins, much of it gold. The officers made calls to the Carson City and Douglas County sheriff's offices.

Detectives obtained a search warrant and turned up hundreds of thousands of dollars of items matching the description of goods reported stolen since June.

"It was a pretty exciting night for us," Vine said, adding, "Just about everything in that home was stolen."

Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong said Vine's efforts were of the highest caliber.

"She should be commended at the highest level," he said.


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