Stolen property recovered after vehicle fires; suspect at large

BENTON COUNTY, WA - On Tuesday, June 26 at about 2 a.m., deputies responded to a vehicle fire at Webber Canyon Road and Henson Road.

When deputies arrived, they found two vehicles that were fully engulfed. One of the vehicles was the U-Haul cargo van that was reported stolen in Kennewick on June 17 and the other was an older Ford pick-up.

As deputies were leaving the scene they contacted a Hispanic male walking down Webber Canyon Road. The man was identified as 25-year old Balentine Virrueta-Meraz. Virrueta-Meraz was given a ride to the 18000 block E Badger Road, where a second male that was known to the deputies was arrested on two outstanding warrants.

During the arrest, deputies noticed several Home Depot packing boxes and a postcard with the U-Haul theft victim's name on it. Based on the deputies' observations, a search warrant was obtained for the property and most of the property belonging to the victims' was recovered, to include their Toyota Tacoma.

Several other stolen vehicles, to include Harley Davidson motorcycles and a Ford F-150 pick-up, were also located on the property and returned to their owners.

The Benton County Sheriff's Office is looking for 41-year old Michael Gene Cook, who is a person of interest in this investigation.

If anyone has any information please contact Detective CJ Conner at 735-6555 or the Non-Emergency phone number, 628-0333.

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