Crime

Man sentenced to 26 months for string of June car thefts across Whatcom County

Man describes capturing suspected car thief

Rob Stamm of Bellingham explains how he caught a man trying to drive off with his car. Police arrested Marshall Lee May, 27, after a series of car thefts that began in Bellingham on Friday, June 10, and ended with the arrest around 4:30 p.m.
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Rob Stamm of Bellingham explains how he caught a man trying to drive off with his car. Police arrested Marshall Lee May, 27, after a series of car thefts that began in Bellingham on Friday, June 10, and ended with the arrest around 4:30 p.m.

A Seattle man who went on a vehicle-stealing spree through Whatcom County in June must serve more than two years behind bars, a Superior Court judge decided Thursday, Sept. 1.

Marshall Lee May, 28, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft of a motor vehicle during the same hearing. Judge Deborra Garrett sentenced May to 26 months.

May’s spree began June 10, when an employee at Zodiac Airline Cabin Interiors, 3225 Woburn St., Bellingham, reported at about 9 a.m. that his black 1998 Jeep Cherokee had been stolen from the business’s parking lot. A Subaru sat in the Jeep’s spot. When police ran the Subaru’s license plate, they learned it had been reported stolen out of Seattle.

At about 10:45 a.m. that day, a man reported his Subaru Impreza had gone missing from where it was parked at 925 N. Forest St. in Bellingham. The black Cherokee was parked in the Impreza’s place.

May was later caught at about 4:30 p.m. that day when he tried to steal a Dodge Neon parked at a Starvin Sam’s convenience store at Guide Meridian and Smith roads. The man who was driving the Neon, Rob Stamm, 38, of Bellingham, walked out of the store to see May sitting in the car’s driver’s seat. Stamm reached in through the open driver’s-side window to pull May out of the car.

May put the car in reverse and slammed on the accelerator, circling in reverse in the parking lot and hitting two other cars before coming to a stop. Stamm pulled May out of the car and held him to the ground until police arrived.

Another car later reported missing in Ferndale also was linked to May, said Christopher Quinn, the prosecutor. May stole three cars, Quinn said, but only pleaded to two counts of theft of a motor vehicle as a result of a plea deal.

“We agreed to resolve the case through two felony pleas of theft of a motor vehicle arising from the incident,” Quinn said Thursday.

The two counts of theft don’t apply to any two specific vehicles involved in the thefts, Quinn noted.

May’s 26-month sentence falls in the middle of the standard sentencing range for those crimes, which is 22 to 29 months, Quinn said. Garrett’s sentence followed the state’s recommendation.

May’s time in the Whatcom County Jail, which began on June 13, will count toward his sentence, Quinn said.

May suffers from some mental health issues, Quinn said, but he would not give specific details. He said those issues were taken into consideration when the sentence was proposed.

May is also required to pay restitution to the victims. An amount for that restitution has not been set yet, Quinn said.

Kyle Mittan: 360-756-2803, @KyleMittan

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