Ronald L. Ware
Ronald Ware, 25, was charged Thursday with felony theft of items from a pickup, one of dozens of thefts throughout North Platte during the last two-and-a-half weeks.Ware is accused of stealing a duffel bag that contained electronic items while the pickup driver was inside a Casey's convenience store on Rodeo Road.
Lincoln County Judge Kent Turnbull set Ware's bond at $25,000.
The duffel bag contained a laptop, Kindle, iPad and other items with a total value of around $700, police spokesman Rodney Brown said. The driver told police he was only inside for a short time.
The store's surveillance video indicated Ware took the bag.
Police found Ware, and the missing property, in the 2000 block of Burlington, police spokesman Rodney Brown said.
Ware was arrested and charged with felony theft by unlawful taking and he is also charged with driving under suspension, no proof of insurance, fictitious plates, assault by mutual consent, driving under the influence, refusal to submit to a breath test, criminal mischief, disturbing the peace and possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.
Ware is no stranger to trouble with the law. When he was arrested, he was out of jail on bond on DUS-related charges that were pressed against him in March. He has been jailed 20 times since 2007.
Prosecutors did not say if Ware’s arrest is linked to a rash of thefts in North Platte Nov. 15-25, but the theft fit the pattern of items stolen from unlocked vehicles.
Brown said the number of theft reports is significantly lower than it was in late November, but could not say it that is due to arrests or more people locking their cars and watching more closely.
Andrew Lauber, 23, of North Platte was also arrested late Thursday for attempted theft of a car on Nov. 1.
Lauber allegedly tore up the steering column of a car in the 300 block of West 11th, trying to start the car and steal it.
Brown said a cell phone was found inside the car. Police traced it to Lauber's sister, who said Lauber had borrowed it from her. Lauber was contacted by phone, but declined to come in and talk to police. He remained at large until Dec. 5, when an officer contacted him in an unrelated incident. He was arrested and charged with attempted theft over $1,500, an amount that makes the crime a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Lauber was arrested twice in 2012 on drug charges. For the biggest charge, he served 194 days for meth possession with intent to deliver.
Two North Platte teenagers were arrested Nov. 19, but the thefts continued, reaching a total of nearly 70 during a 10-day period. One teen who was arrested, KC Lee Betancud, 18, was convicted in court Thursday of two thefts. (Related story on this website.)
Also, police caught Lukas Camacho, 19, early Wednesday morning. They said they saw him trying to break into a home in the 200 block of East 10th around 4:50 a.m.
The number of robberies in North Platte gradually decreased during Thanksgiving week. Police spokesman Rodney Brown said police received fewer complaints from Nov. 26-Dec. 3. During that time, there were 14 thefts and burglaries in the city, but only two robberies involved a motor vehicle, according to police logs.
Brown credited heightened awareness and a proactive community.
“It's a recipe for prevention,” he said.
As the Bulletin first reported, most stolen items were cash, MP3 players, wallets and other relatively small valuables, taken from unlocked cars.
Brown said items were even stolen from cars that were parked in garages.
At the start of the outbreak, 30-some thefts and burglaries were reported Nov. 15-19. Nearly 40 more were reported from Nov. 19-26.
Ware served 90 days in jail in 2006 for theft – his longest stint behind bars, according to Lincoln County Sheriff’s records.
Patrick Hays has been Ware’s defense attorney over the years, but Hays is retiring at the end of the year, so Turnbull assigned Patrick Heng to step in.
Allowing time for a new attorney to get up to speed, Turnbull set Ware's preliminary hearing for Dec. 12.
Jay Huff contributed to this report, which was first published Thursday and updated Friday.