Petaluma, CA

Police: Wanted suspects used metal coat hangar to try and break into hotel rooms at night, startling guests

Golden Gate Media
When officers searched the suspects' vehicle, they found a stolen motorcycle, drugs, and the metal coat hangar used in the hotels.Petaluma Police

Hotel guests staying in two Sonoma County hotels were awoken by burglars who tried using a wire coat hanger to break into their rooms in the middle of the night.

The unsettling incident happened last week in Petaluma, north of San Francisco. Police said the burglars were not successful in entering any of the rooms. Alert hotel employees working overnight called the police in both incidents.

“On July 22, at approximately 2:16 a.m., the Petaluma Police Department received a call from an employee at the Sheraton hotel,” police stated in a media bulletin. “He had received calls from multiple hotel guests that a male subject was trying to break into hotel rooms with a metal coat hanger (or similar object). The male left prior to police being notified and surveillance footage was not readily accessible. Hotel staff did not believe access was made to any rooms.”

An hour later, police said, there was a report of a similar break-in attempt at another hotel nearby.

“At approximately 3:15 a.m., an employee from the Hampton Inn called to report similar circumstances,” investigators added. “A male and female were attempting to break into hotel rooms with the use of a ‘wire hanger.’ Both subjects left prior to police arrival. Again, the hotel staff did not believe the subjects made entry into any hotel rooms. Surveillance footage depicted a male and female working together. The male subject matched the general description provided during the incident at the Sheraton. The two subjects left in a blue Ford SUV, towing a black box trailer. Officers were unable to locate the vehicle during a search of the immediate and surrounding areas, including other hotels/motels.”

Police said observant officers patrolling the community that evening spotted a vehicle matching the description of the getaway car used in the attempted hotel room burglaries.

“At approximately 9:49 p.m., officers observed a blue Ford SUV towing a black box trailer in the area of Lakeville St. and the Gateway Plaza Shopping Center,” police stated. “They recalled the vehicle description from their previous shift and noticed the trailer did not have a license plate. Officers conducted a traffic stop and contacted the driver, later identified as Nathan Silva, and passenger, later identified as Sarah Shalagin.”

Police officers went through the SUV and trailer, looking for evidence.

“During a search of the vehicle officers located drug paraphernalia, suspected narcotics, and a long piece of metal wiring with a hook fashioned to one end. The metal wire matched the description of the burglary tool provided by staff at both hotels,” police stated. “During a search of the trailer, officers recovered a motorcycle that had been reported stolen out of Novato. Officers were unable to determine the ownership/status of the trailer (and its other contents) because its’ vehicle identification number had been removed.”

“During a record check officers learned Silva had a misdemeanor warrant out for his arrest for possession of burglary tools,” police said. "Shalagin had multiple misdemeanor warrants out for her arrest for narcotic and traffic-related offenses. Due to a medical condition, Shalagin was arrested, issued a citation to appear in court, and released from the scene for her outstanding warrants, providing false information, and possession of drug paraphernalia (all misdemeanors). Silva was booked into the Sonoma County Jail for (felony) possession of a stolen vehicle, and misdemeanor charges of possession of burglary tools, possession of narcotics and paraphernalia, and his outstanding warrant.”

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