David D. Cole, 41, Waupaca, faces felony charges in three counties.
In Waupaca County, Cole has been charged with five counts of burglary, two counts of felony theft and three counts of misdemeanor theft.
He also faces charges of burglary and receiving stolen property in Waushara County and felon in possession of a firearm in Outagamie County.
Five homes hit by burglaries in one month
Coles’ alleged crime spree in Waupaca County began on Dec. 18, 2013, when residents on Larson Road in rural Waupaca reported that someone broke into their home and stole jewelry.
On Dec. 25, 2013, forced entry was made through the garage service door of a home on Crystal Lake Road in Dayton. A large number of coins, two class rings from 1961 and 1966, a wedding band, necklaces, cuff links and other jewelry were stolen.
On Jan. 4, 2014, a digital camera, a diamond ring and a diamond pendant were stolen from a home on Miracle Mountain Way in the town of Lind.
On Jan. 8, residents on County Road K in Dayton reported that a safe with more than $40,000 in cash had been stolen from their home, along with a .38-caliber revolver, two 12-gauge shotguns, a semi-automatic AR-15 weapon, a .270-caliber bolt-action rifle, a black powder pistol, an Army pistol, a crossbow, jewelry, rings and a digital camera.
On Jan. 13, another home break-in was reported on Mouse Creek Road in the town of Little Wolf. A 12-gauge shotgun, a canvas gun case, a digital camera, a 42-inch plasma TV, a DVD player and a printer/scanner unit were stolen.
Burglaries linked in four counties
On Jan. 15, Capt. Don Conat advised Detective Sgts. Rob Karski, John Mocadlo and Julie Thobaben of several suspects in a series of daytime burglaries in Outagamie, Winnebago and Waushara counties.
Among the suspects were Luke L. Scruton, 27, Oshkosh; Hannah M. Velazquez, 19, Neenah; and David M. DeBlare, 30, Hortonville.
After repeated attempts to make contact, Thobaben questioned Velazquez about the burglaries over the phone on Jan. 18.
According to the criminal complaint, Velazquez said she and her boyfriend, DeBlare, were suspects, but she accused Cole and Scruton of doing all the burglaries.
Velazquez is currently facing a burglary charge in Outagamie County and a charge of receiving stolen property in Winnebago County.
DeBlare faces charges of burglary, theft and bail jumping in Outagamie and Winnebago counties, and charges of burglary and criminal damage to property in Waushara County. He was sentenced in March in Winnebago County to 12 months in prison after being convicted of a fifth OWI.
Following leads from pawn shops
On Jan. 20, Thobaben learned from the Outagamie County Sheriff’s Office that Cole had pawned a gun, camera, binoculars and jewelry at various pawn shops over the prior two months.
That same day, Karski learned from Winnebago County law enforcement that Cole was living in Omro with his girlfriend, Robin J. Zarling, 41. Cole had pawned a digital camera on Jan. 16, and Zarling had pawned a zoom lens on Jan. 15.
In running Cole’s name through the Northeastern Wisconsin Property Reporting System, Karski found that Cole sold coins to an antique consignment shop in Oshkosh. When he called the shop’s owner, Karski found that in addition to the coins, Cole brought in a 1966 class ring and a necklace.
Karski obtained photos of the coins, ring and necklace, which the Dec. 25 victims identified as their stolen items.
On Jan. 21, Thobaben obtained photos of a digital camera that Cole pawned at a shop in Grand Chute. The Jan. 8 victims identified it as the one stolen from their home.
On Saturday, Jan. 25, Mocadlo questioned Jeffrey M. Scruton Sr., 48, Berlin, who said his son. Luke Scruton, and Cole brought two 12-gauge shotguns to his home about a month earlier.
When asked about the safe, Jeffrey Scruton initially denied knowledge of it. He later reportedly told Mocadlo, “All right, I was here and watched David Cole fumble around trying to get in it. I got frustrated, so I jumped in and started to help him break it open.”
At 9:20 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 26, the Jan. 8 victims contacted Thobaben. They told her that the wife’s brother had called that morning and said the stolen guns were at his house.
Thobaben and Mocadlo went to the brother’s house. He told them Jeffrey Scruton had come to his house shortly after 11 p.m. the prior night and piled firearms, ammunition and accessories in a bedroom. Scruton told the brother he was worried the police would go to his airport hangar and find the rest of his guns, the complaint says.
On Jan. 28, Thobaben and Mocadlo questioned Jeffrey Scruton again. During this interview, Scruton reportedly said his son and Cole brought a flat-screen TV and some cash when they visited the first time and “a bunch of guns” when they visited a second time several days later. Scruton said he bought three of the guns for $300.
According to the criminal complaint, Scruton told the detectives that Cole and Zurling visited him later. He said Cole brought a black AR-15 rifle, a .30-30 Winchester, a .38-caliber black pistol with a laser site, a black powder pistol and a crossbow.
Scruton said he became nervous after receiving calls regarding his son, so he called Cole and told him to come and get all the stuff out of his house, investigators reported.
When the detectives asked Scruton where Cole would have taken the guns, Scruton reportedly said he took them to Ryan Thompson, the owner of a tattoo shop in King.
On Jan. 29, Mocadlo and Thobaben went to Jeffrey Scruton’s home in Waushara County. There they reported finding an AR-15 and a crossbow in a semi-trailer.
Jeffrey Scruton was convicted of burglary in June 2004 in Winnebago County. As a result of this investigation, he was charged with 10 counts of felon in possession of a firearm, one count of burglary and two counts of concealing stolen property in Waushara County. He also faces four counts of felon in possession of a firearm in Winnebago County.
Luke Scruton is charged in Winnebago County with burglary, theft and receiving stolen property. In Outagamie County, he was charged on Jan. 21 with burglary and theft, convicted of burglary on March 12, and on May 15 placed on three years of probation with eight months in jail and $10,000 in restitution.
Arrest in Omro
Shortly after 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 23, Cole and Zurling were taken into custody after they left the Fish Inn Motel in a white Chrysler 300.
Detective Sgts. James Gorman and Julie Thobaben executed a search warrant on the vehicle and found two sets of bar darts, later identified as stolen from the Jan. 8 victims, and two digital cameras, one of which had its serial number removed.
At 11:15 a.m. that day, Mocadlo questioned Zarling about reports that she and Cole had taken a trip down south where they made money selling things.
Zarling reportedly said she and Cole had driven to Louisiana in a black Ford Taurus. She said Cole had a black bag filled with jewelry and watches and that he sold these things at pawn shops along the way.
After further questioning by Thobaben and Mocadlo, Zarling told them she knew where to find the pieces of the safe.
Shortly after 4:30 p.m. Jan. 23, Conat drove Thobaben and Zurling to a bridge where Zurlng said the safe had been dumped.
Conat walked down to the water and found a piece of gray metal sticking out of the snow. It was removed and identified as half of the stolen safe.
Zurling has not been charged at this time.
Cole’s life behind bars
In addition to his recent charges in three counties, Cole has a record that dates back to 1991 when he was cited for underage drinking and convicted of disorderly conduct in Waupaca County.
In 1993, Cole was convicted in Waupaca County of battery, escape and possession of marijuana. He was placed on probation, but his probation was revoked in April 1995 and he was sentenced to 30 months in state prison.
In Portage County in April 1995, Cole was convicted of operating a vehicle without the owner’s consent and sentenced to 42 months in jail.
In Waupaca County in January 1998, Cole was convicted of criminal damage to property and placed on one year of probation. Six months later, the court revoked his probation and sentenced him to six months in jail.
In March 1998, Cole was convicted in Waupaca County of battery, placed on one year of probation, then revoked three months later and sentenced to 18 months in prison.
In June 1998, Cole was convicted of disorderly conduct in Waupaca County and sentenced to nine months in jail.
In July 2001 in Outagamie County, Cole was convicted of disorderly conduct and assessed $146 in fines and court costs, and convicted of operating under the influence and sentenced to 30 days in jail and assessed $1,040.
In August 2001 in Waushara County, Cole was convicted of a second OWI, sentenced to 10 days in jail and assessed $1,366.
In January 2003 in Waushara County, Cole was convicted of operating a vehicle without the owner’s consent and fleeing an officer. He was sentenced to two years in state prison.
In April 2007 in Winnebago County, Cole was convicted of conspiracy to commit burglary and sentenced to six years in state prison. The court ruled that he was eligible for the earned release program.
In December 2012 in Waupaca County, Cole was charged with 12 counts of issuing worthless checks. He was convicted on three counts in October 2013, the rest were dismissed but read into the record for sentencing. Cole was placed on two years of probation and ordered to pay $2,900 in restitution.
His probation on the worthless checks convictions was revoked on May 27, 2014. He was sentenced to time served and his restitution was reduced to a civil judgment.