A Santa Rosa man awaiting sentencing for stealing wine and power tools is back in custody, this time suspected of taking more than $100,000 in construction equipment.
Santa Rosa police detectives were searching William Lawrence Browning's storage unit when he arrived on the scene Monday. He was arrested and taken to Sonoma County Jail.
Inside the storage unit, detectives found numerous large items taken in July from a Calistoga tree service, as well as items stolen from other businesses, said Sgt. Eric Litchfield.
Litchfield called Browning "one of the biggest burglars in Sonoma County."
Browning, 47, was due to be sentenced Aug. 27 for last fall's arrest on three burglaries involving 100 cases of wine worth about $100,000 from All Ways Cool wine distributor in Santa Rosa.
He is now due in court today to be arraigned on the new case. With a prior conviction for a 2001 felony commercial burglary, he was expected to receive prison time at the Aug. 27 sentencing.
But detectives said Browning didn't stop his illegal activities while awaiting the court's judgment.
Detectives got a search warrant for Browning's Highway 12 storage unit in western Santa Rosa based on leads connecting him to a recent hydroponics business theft in Santa Rosa, Litchfield said.
But Browning also was suspected of breaking into Pacific Tree Care in Calistoga in mid-July, loading up one of the company trucks with equipment and making off with more than $100,000 in goods.
Detectives Monday said they discovered several items taken from Pacific Tree Care, and recovered the stolen truck at a separate location, Litchfield said.
"We're happy we got some back" and are feeling positive they caught the guy responsible for it, said Nicole Kilbourne, who has owned the tree service company for 24 years with her husband.
Detectives also found an additional $50,000 in other suspected stolen items in the storage unit, Litchfield said.
Browning was arrested Monday for suspicion of possessing stolen property and possessing and transporting methamphetamine for sale. Bail was set at $185,000.
Browning also is facing possible charges in Napa County as a suspect in the Calistoga theft, Litchfield said.
Some of the materials were traded and other items were sold on eBay, according to Litchfield.
Detectives are hoping to find the owners of the other suspected stolen equipment, which included Graco 190 ES paint sprayers, a Coleman 6560 Powermate generator, several Stihl chainsaws and weed trimmers, a Husqvarna weed trimmer, a Poulan chain saw and a Stihl concrete saw.
You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 521-5412 or randi.rossmann@press
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