Two arrested for alleged theft, sale of deceased veteran's military memorabilia

ROGUE RIVER — Two residents were arrested Thursday for allegedly breaking into a home and stealing a World War II uniform and other military memorabilia belonging to a U.S. Navy veteran who had died.

Robert Michael Larson, 41, and Geri Leah Hlavinka, 43, were also arrested on charges of methamphetamine possession. Hlavinka faces a charge of endangering the welfare of a minor, as a 15-year-old was living in the home where drugs were found, the Jackson County Sheriff's Department said.

"Both of them are frequent fliers within the jail," said sheriff's spokeswoman Andrea Carlson.

The 15-year-old is now living with other family, and police say the case has been forwarded to the Department of Human Services.

Police said the burglary occurred in October in Rogue River following an estate sale. Several items were stolen the next night, including recreation equipment and some jewelry. Police allege Larson and Hlavinka also stole a U.S. flag used at the veteran's military funeral. They added that the items did not have high monetary value but were sentimental keepsakes of the veteran's family.

"They had broken into the home before the family still had a chance to go through it all," Carlson said.

Larson and Hlavinka allegedly sold the uniform at a Grants Pass swap meet. The purchaser had heard a similar uniform had been stolen in the area and was able to return it. Numerous additional items, including the burial flag, were also found and returned by police.

A Jackson County Sheriff's Department SWAT team issued a search warrant in the 100 block of Earhart Road in Rogue River and arrested Larson and Hlavinka.

Larson is held in the Jackson County Jail without bail on the drug and burglary charges, along with numerous failure-to-appear charges, jail records show. Hlavinka is held on $29,000 bail.

— Ryan Pfeil

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