Simple safety precautions urged, even in small town
Two cars left parked with keys inside were recently stolen in Twisp, and the incidents offer a simple lesson for local residents, according to Twisp police officer Ty Sheehan.
“Everybody please lock your cars and take your keys with you. It’s way less likely to vanish on you,” Sheehan said.
The first car theft occurred on April 15, when Twisp resident Patty Yates parked her Ford Escape in front of Methow Valley Lumber at about 11:45 a.m. and went inside the store to buy some house paint. She left a small backpack with personal belongings, an iPad and her keys in the car, wanting to keep her hands free to carry the paint.
When she came out of the store, her car was gone. It was discovered two days later by friends who drove to Okanogan to look for it, and found it parked on a downtown street. Yates’ backpack and iPad are still missing, Sheehan said. Yates, an artist, also had painting materials in the car, and they were still there, Sheehan said.
The second car theft occurred one week later, on April 22. A Subaru owned by Joe Goggiel was parked with keys inside in front of his house on Canyon Street and was stolen at almost the same time — about 11:45 a.m. — as Yates’ car was stolen the previous week. That car was spotted one day later (April 23) at about noon parked at the Community Covenant Church in Twisp.
The keys were inside and no belongings were missing, Sheehan said. Twisp police were unavailable when it was found, so Winthrop police came to help with the vehicle recovery and write a report.
Sheehan said police have a suspect in both car thefts. “We’re at the point between knowing who did it and proving who did it. It’s the same person in both cases,” he said. Vehicle theft is a felony, and the value of items stolen from Yates’ car makes that a felony as well, he said.
Both car thefts “happened on Mondays, around 11:45 a.m., in broad daylight with people around,” Sheehan said. “They were just easy opportunities. If there’s a car that’s got keys in it, they can hop in, drive it off, find anything of value,” he said.
“You’ve got druggies who don’t have respect for other people’s property. If it’s easy to take, they take it. Being a junkie is a full-time job, and part of their job is finding a way to pay for it,” Sheehan said.
“It’s rare that they’re specifically after your stuff, they’re just after stuff. It’s an ongoing problem with property crime … all the time we have vehicle prowls or burglaries where a house is left unlocked,” Sheehan said.
Fortunately, more-serious property crimes are not that frequent in the Methow Valley, and are easily prevented, he said. “It’s rare that we have a real break-in, into a car or a house. Keep your cars and houses locked. It’s an easy precaution to take.”