Man in custody in connection with vehicle thefts

By Erin Mathews

The Salina Journal

A man arrested in Wichita is being held on charges related to a string of vehicle thefts and attempted thefts of vehicles in Salina and Saline County May 2, as well as an earlier domestic violence incident in Gypsum.

William R. Avise, 29, of Gypsum, is being held in Saline County Jail on charges that include aggravated burglary, theft of services, robbery, criminal threat, domestic battery, criminal restraint and kidnapping.

Sheriff Glen Kochanowski said Avise was arrested May 6 in Wichita, and at the time of his arrest a wallet, laptop computer and iPad that had been inside a pickup truck stolen in Saline County were recovered from a Wichita car dealership. Kochanowski said he did not know if the gray 2007 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck belonging to Monsanto Co. of Halstead had been recovered.

Kochanowski said that before the time Avise is accused of stealing or attempting to steal a series of vehicles, deputies already were seeking Avise in connection with a domestic disturbance that reportedly occurred between April 23 and 29. He said Avise's girlfriend reported that he had beaten her, taken her cellphone and prevented her from leaving the house during that time.

Capt. Mike Sweeney of the Salina Police Department said earlier that on May 2, police were sent to the 700 block of Highland Avenue about 7:40 p.m. A woman reported that she had returned from the store and left her purse and car keys on a table inside her home before she went into her backyard to work in her garden, Sweeney said.

About a half hour later, she noticed that her car was missing and called police. Sweeney said her vehicle, which was valued at $12,500, was located, undamaged, at Long McArthur Ford, 3450 S. Ninth, about two hours later.

Long McArthur employees reported that at about 7 p.m., a man entered the business and took the keys to a 2013 Lincoln MKS that was used as a rental vehicle. The vehicle, valued at $58,760, was missing, and the woman's car was found in the lot, Sweeney said.

From there, Kochanowski said, Avise allegedly drove to Assaria, where at 7:50 p.m. he entered a house. Sara Forsberg was in her living room feeding a toddler when she heard someone enter her kitchen. When she entered the kitchen, she found a man rummaging through her purse and holding her car keys, Kochanowski said. She followed him to her car, insisting that he give the key back, and he allegedly left again in the Long McArthur vehicle.

Kochanowski said Michael White was working in his yard in east Assaria when he saw a vehicle parked near his garage at 8:06 p.m. When he entered the garage, he found an intruder in his car and told him to get out.

White argued with Avise, prevented him from shutting the car door, grabbed him by the shoulders and told him he was not taking the car. Kochanowski said Avise grabbed a backpack off the seat, got back into the car he'd been driving and drove off through a field.

At 8:11 p.m., a crew was applying chemicals to a field in the 800 block of Sundgren Road when their pickup truck was stolen and the Long McArthur vehicle was left. The three-quarter-ton pickup truck was valued at $20,000.

(c)2014 The Salina Journal