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Local homeowner’s security camera leads to burglary arrest

Valorie Lamb Harlan Valorie Lamb Harlan

With the help of his security system — and local authorities — a Ralston area homeowner was able to catch a burglar from more than 300 miles away last week.

Valorie Lamb Harlan, 43, has been charged with the Friday break-in on Dutcher Springs Trail. Because Lamb Harlan is alleged to have tried stealing firearms — and to have had a loaded handgun in a tool bag — she’s been charged with a felony count of aggravated burglary.

Circuit Court Judge Bruce Waters set Lamb Harlan’s bail at $50,000 cash at her first court appearance on Monday; the Powell woman remained jailed at the Park County Detention Center on Wednesday.

The owner of the residence on Dutcher Springs Trail had been in Pinedale on Friday night when his home security system began capturing and sending him video footage of an intruder. As he watched, the female intruder started taking long guns from the house and bringing them into the garage, Park County Sheriff’s Sgt. Mark Hartman wrote in an affidavit filed in support of the case.

The owner called the Sheriff’s Office and Hartman, Deputy Andy Varian and Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper Rick Scovel were dispatched to the residence around 10:30 p.m.

When they arrived, Hartman saw a woman enter the garage from a door that had been damaged; when Hartman told the woman to halt, she retreated into the home, the affidavit says.

Hartman followed the woman inside and would later identify her as Lamb Harlan.

“The female was then commanded to get on the floor, which she did, all the while crying that [the homeowner’s ex-wife] had sent her to the house with a garage door opener to ‘get a few things,’” Hartman wrote, adding, “I asked her if that were the case, why did she break the door in on the house?”

According to the affidavit, Lamb Harlan said the door was broken when she got there (though Hartman said the video surveillance footage shows her entering the home with an ax in hand); Lamb Harlan also reportedly asked how she could have gotten into the garage without someone giving her the door opener.

Hartman later concluded that the opener had been stolen from the homeowner’s shop on Lane 8.

“I was also later to learn that this property [the Lane 8 shop] had been burglarized and ransacked as well,” Hartman wrote.

Two ATVs, a motorcycle and four vehicles inside the workshop were damaged with what appeared to be some kind of hammer, said Lance Mathess, a spokesman for the Park County Sheriff’s Office; two camper trailers parked on the property were also burglarized, Mathess said.

A canvas tool bag that the responding officers found in the Dutcher Springs home held a short-handled sledge hammer that appeared to have been stolen from the Lane 8 shop, Hartman wrote. The nearly full bag also held change, cash and a loaded 1911 Kimber handgun with its safety disengaged.

Five other firearms — three long guns and two handguns — were found in the trunk of Harlan’s car, which was parked in the homeowner’s garage, the affidavit says.

Mathess said police and deputies are investigating whether the incident on Dutcher Springs Trail is connected to a series of break-ins in Powell and Cody last week. He said 11 vehicles, seven car washes and a laundromat were reportedly broken into, or had attempts made to break in.

No charges have been filed in connection with any of those incidents nor in connection with the reported break-in and damage at the shop on Lane 8.

A preliminary hearing on the aggravated burglary charge, to determine whether the case can move toward a trial, is tentatively set for Tuesday. The charge carries a minimum sentence of five years in prison.

Court records show Lamb Harlan is currently serving five years of supervised probation for helping her then-boyfriend manufacture small amounts of methamphetamine in 2015.

3 comments

  • posted by Billy

    May 11, 2017 11:06 am

    Very interesting to see what kind of defense a security camera can offer up to a home. I think it is a great idea for more homeowners to invest in these security measures. Its more often than not an easy way to not only prevent issues, but have proof of the event taking place if any wrongdoing is done. I think it is vital for homeowners to have security cameras but for business to also have security guards throughout the night. Seems like a safer experience for everyone.

  • posted by Sick and Tired

    April 20, 2017 11:49 am

    I wonder who this 'Ex-wife' is that sent her there to get things? Interesting that this woman said she was given the garage door opener by the ex wife. And the opener came from a vehicle that was vandalized in a different location. No big news on that. Sounds like a significant amount of damage was done at this other location. But doesn't seem to be a big deal anywhere. Makes me sick to know this could be my house and nobody give a rats patoeey.

  • posted by Salty Dawg

    April 14, 2017 8:33 am

    Drugs...why does this keep happening in your area? Looking the other way will never stop these maniacs from stealing for their filthy habits.If you see something strange going on report it.If people do not start looking out for one another,this drug problem will never get cleaned up.But then...who to trust anymore? The entire Big Horn Basin has turned into a drug haven.

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