The Pine Cone's third story of the week

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Ex-cons suspected in series of break-ins, thefts


Published: October 17, 2008

A PAROLEE and a woman wanted on a felony warrant were arrested early Monday morning following a brief chase through Carmel. Police alleged the pair committed several burglaries and thefts in Carmel, Carmel Valley and Salinas.

At about 4:30 a.m. Oct. 13, Carmel P.D. officer Jeff Watkins noticed an unfamiliar truck in the area of Casanova and 13th and tried to catch up with it, according to officer Chris Johnson.

“We know most of our newspaper delivery guys,” he explained, so an unfamiliar vehicle in town at an odd hour tends to get officers’ attention.

When Watkins attempted to get close, the gray Dodge pickup truck took off, recklessly running a couple of stop signs. The driver finally pulled over on Lasuen Road near the Carmel Mission, according to Johnson, who arrived with new officer Josh Plosser seconds later.

Police identified the driver as 43-year-old Christopher Gaebelein from Salinas, whom they said is on parole for burglary.

“And his passenger — we could immediately tell she wasn’t giving us her real name,” Johnson said.

She provided three different first names while sticking to the same last name and date of birth, even after fingerprinting at the police station revealed she was 33-year-old Salinas resident Joalee Melville. She also has a record and was wanted on a felony no-bail warrant for possession of methamphetamine.

The officers searched Gaebelein’s truck and reported finding a passport, checkbook and business cards from a residence on San Juan Road in Carmel Woods.

“There was a lot of other stolen property, but nothing of any huge value — not like the family silver or televisions,” Johnson said.

The truck turned out to be a treasure trove of stolen goods tying the suspects to multiple crimes, according to Johnson. The loot included an expensive leather jacket, sunglasses and clothing taken from a car on San Pedro Lane, also in the Carmel Woods area; mail stolen from a mailbox and a purse taken from a car on Ronocco Road in Carmel Valley; a cell phone removed from a car parked on Guadalupe Street near Ocean Avenue, and property swiped from another car at Camino Real and 13th, near the location Watkins initially noticed the truck.

Gaebelein and Melville are also suspected of stealing a guitar and may have been in possession of a stolen laptop.

Finally, police found a cell phone and a GPS navigation unit stolen from a car on Cava Circle off River Road in Salinas a week earlier.

“They were using it,” he said of the GPS navigator. “There were addresses in it the owner said weren’t his.”

Because Carmel Woods is outside the city limits, Carmel P.D. alerted the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office, which sent a deputy to check out the San Juan Road home.

“They found the front door open, which is not a good sign,” Johnson said. “It appeared the residence had more or less been ransacked.” The owner was out of town.

Police arrested Gaebelein and Melville on charges of burglary, conspiracy, grand theft and possession of stolen property. In addition, Melville was charged with providing false information to a police officer, and Gaebelein was charged with possession of methamphetamine and paraphernalia. He was not charged with any vehicle code violations.

They were booked into Monterey County Jail and held without bail.