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Idaho man accused of stealing plane from Nevada airport

LAS VEGAS (FOX5) – After a series of burglaries earlier in the week, a plane was stolen Saturday evening out of the North Las Vegas airport and landed in the middle of the desert near Barstow.
Police said a 2020 Kitfox fixed-wing single-engine type aircraft was burglarized by 40-year-old suspect Damian Zukaitis sometime after 2 p.m. on Dec. 30. Police said the suspect took off with the plane and landed in a field near the Barstow-Daggett Airport.
Police said they are still investigating the motive. It is unclear where the pilot was headed.
According to the plane’s owner, the plane was found with part of a marijuana joint on the floor and numerous beer cans and bottles in the cockpit. When asked to move the plane by authorities, it was unable to fly back to North Las Vegas due to the damage to the propeller and the engine. The owner found a binder opened up to a specific page with instructions on landing in an airport in Corona, California.
The plane’s owner tells FOX5, they were alerted to the theft by the Air Force, who called them to ask if they had “crashed” or made a “hard landing” outside Barstow. A “Emergency Locator Transmitter” sensor alerts authorities when a possible accident occurs.
The San Bernardino Sheriff’s Office apprehended the suspect. Zukaitis faces charges of possession of a stolen airplane and transporting stolen property across state lines. Additional charges are pending for alleged crimes committed in Nevada.
The suspect also has a felony probation violation warrant out of Ada County in Idaho, according to the Ada County Sheriff’s Office. According to a spokesperson, Zukaitis was pled guilty to the following charges from 2020: to two counts of felony stalking of two different female victims, a count of misdemeanor battery, and two attempted violations of a no contact order. The Ada County warrant was issued on Dec. 7.
There is still no word why the suspect was in the Las Vegas area.
According to FAA pilot records, a pilot with the same name with a previous address was listed as a “student pilot.” Instructors tell FOX5 that a student pilot can fly alone and a longer distance if it’s approved by an instructor.
The suspect will be extradited back to the Las Vegas Valley and face a judge in North Las Vegas Justice Court, per North Las Vegas Police.
Police suspect Zukaitis is responsible for three burglaries to other planes on Dec. 27, 28, and 29 and noted that one of the planes was burglarized twice.
The owner of one of the burglarized planes tells FOX5, he raised concerns to investigators twice that someone appeared to try to steal his plane. He tells FOX5, he found his plane untied, a cover removed, and the master engine turned on. The locks were also damaged.
Several other pilots tell FOX5, they have concerns about the safety of the airport and would like to see more surveillance, security measures or more personnel.
Veteran pilot and aviation attorney Jeffrey Lustick tells FOX5, he hopes pilots can meet with airport officials to discuss safety measures. He has two planes stored at the North Las Vegas Airport.
“We all agree that we would like to feel safer. We would like to have the airport more secure,” he said. “Safety is a state of mind, and considering everything that’s happened, I think that the pilots would greatly benefit from a meeting to discuss these issues,” Lustick said.
FOX5 asked airport officials about security measures and concerns. A spokesperson with the Harry Reid Airport released the following statement so far:
On Saturday, Dec. 30, an aircraft was stolen from the North Las Vegas Airport. This remains an active investigation. Any further questions about the incident should be directed to the North Las Vegas Police Department.
This story first appeared on fellow CNN affiliate KVVU (FOX5). It is used here with permission.
The post Idaho man accused of stealing plane from Nevada airport appeared first on East Idaho News.

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