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Couple's car recovered after theft

 

Sherry Constantine stands by a still-shiny, but scratched, car recovered after it was stolen last week. The skull in the window was placed there by the thief. - Scott Hunter photo

After a thief in the night stole their cash, credit cards, car and luggage a week ago, an Electric City couple were happy to have at least their car returned with only minor damage.

"I'm so happy to have it back," Sherry Constantine said Monday of the 2009 Kia Borrego. "They didn't wreck our car, and it's fixable."

On Tuesday the week before, Sherry and Don Constantine had been packed and ready to go on a vacation to Victoria, British Columbia. Their bags were by the door, as was her purse, with the car keys in it.

But it was hot, and the Constantines decided to leave only the screen door closed to the small home they live in right by Banks Lake, a spot they've enjoyed for nine years. They have a view of the lake just past a rustic fence that separates their road from Bureau of Reclamation property that hosts a net pen for raising fish.

It's a quiet spot, and Don had figured there was no need for the surveillance camera installed earlier, so he had taken it down a couple weeks ago, Sherry said.

They planned to get up about 5 a.m. and leave early.

But they woke to find the car, hundreds of dollars in cash, credit cards and luggage gone.

The couple are retired, although Sherry works part-time at H&H Grocery and often rises very early on days she goes to work. She could easily have stumbled into the culprit on a different morning, she noted. Police talked to a neighbor who had heard a noise outside about 3:15 a.m.

Her purse was discovered in a restroom at Coulee Playland, and her coin pouch, with driver license and credit cards, was gone.

Sherry said a policeman called Saturday afternoon from Spokane to say he was looking at her car, and to ask permission to search it and make an arrest after they got done tracking the thief to see where he went. She gave permission, she said, and the policeman said they'd recover the car, but it might take two hours or two days.

That night, Spokane police called again. They'd surrounded the suspect and taken him down.

"Cool, huh," Sherry said. "I want to see him go to prison for 10 years."

The Constantines got the car back on Sunday, after her son-in-law and daughter picked it up. It shows a few scratches outside, dog food and scuffs and filth inside, along with many items not the Constantines'. That had included methamphetamines, police told her. The car doesn't drive right, she said, and a black-and-white skull decal now adorns the windshield right in front of the rearview mirror, where their Vikings team decoration had hung.

An insurance adjuster will come to see it.

Police arrested a 24-year-old man originally from Wilbur, where Sherry Constantine lived for 30 years before moving to Electric City, she said. Another person is also involved, police told her.

They found her coin purse in Spokane, with her driver license inside. Grand Coulee police picked up the items left in the car - a necklace, bottle of wine, some kids' DVDs - because it probably belongs to someone else, they told Sherry.

Don is putting the surveillance camera back up, she said. "We don't want to go through this again."

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