Vehicle theft here does not often find a place in the news. However, it is not all that uncommon of a crime. Teton County Sheriff’s Office points out that nearly all auto thefts reported in Teton County involve keys being left in vehicles. Such was the case earlier this week when a resident reported their mini-van stolen from a business in Wilson. The van was taken overnight with the keys still in the vehicle.
Deputies gathered information on the van and entered it into the National Crime Information Center database. Within minutes Teton County Dispatch received notification that a police agency had run the plate prior to it being reported stolen. It turned out that a 21-year-old Bozeman, Montana woman had been stopped by West Yellowstone Police earlier in the day. She had been arrested on unrelated misdemeanor warrants, taken to West Yellowstone PD and was able to post bond to be released.
She was taken back to the van and she drove off north toward Bozeman. West Yellowstone police were unaware the van was stolen as it had not been reported yet and the driver had the keys. Later a Big Sky, Montana Police Officer ran the plate approximately two hours later.
Big Sky officers were provided information on the suspect and vehicle, and they returned to the where she was still in possession of the stolen van. She was arrested and charged with possession of a stolen vehicle in Montana, and charges of felony auto theft are pending here as well. Sheriff’s officers emphasize, never leave the keys in the car.