Flatbed trailer also
stolen in Wauneta
By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican
Police officers in Imperial and officers with the Chase County Sheriff’s Office are continuing to investigate the theft of three pickups and a trailer last week in Imperial and Wauneta.
One of the pickups was recovered, but no leads on the two other pickups and trailer have been received.
Imperial Police Chief Larry Browning and Sheriff Tim Sutherland would not confirm whether the thefts were related, but both indicated there a similarities, at least in the two thefts reported last Wednesday morning, Nov. 11.
The first report came in last Tuesday, Nov. 10, shortly after 8 a.m. when Brian Manley of Imperial contacted the police department.
Manley reported his red 2004 Ford F150 extended cab pickup was gone from in front of his home where he had parked it in the 300 block of West 6th Street. The keys were inside, but the pickup, which is equipped with a key pad, was locked, according to Browning’s report.
Browning filed a report on it with the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), and also spent time searching in town for it.
About the same time the next morning, Wednesday, Nov. 11, Jack Mandeville of Imperial reported a missing pickup.
The 2000 white Dodge Ram 2500 had been parked north of his home at the intersection of East 6th and Wellington Sts. It was locked with no keys inside, Browning said.
Mandeville told Browning he recalled hearing a vehicle start up about 4 a.m., but thought it was a neighbor.
Later Wednesday morning, the sheriff’s office also received a report that a pickup and trailer were missing from Harchelroad Motors in Wauneta.
The 2004 Ford F250 pickup, maroon in color, and an attached black H&H fifth wheel flatbed trailer had been parked in the Harchelroad lot near the Wauneta Senior Center.
About 10:30 a.m., a pickup was seen by Harchelroad employee Bryant Colton as he was coming to work at Harchelroad’s in Imperial. It was parked along Highway 6, west of Imperial, near Avenue 326.
Thinking it may be one of Harchelroad’s vehicles, the office in Wauneta was contacted. A check of their lot found that pickup and trailer, in fact, were missing.
In all three cases, no windows were broken and officers believe the lock system on the other two unrecovered pickup doors were punched out. In the two pickups in which the keys were not inside, the thieves likely broke out the ignition switch on both to get them started, according to the officers.
Sheriff Sutherland said it was later discovered that the Champa Group building near the Harchelroad’s lot had an outside camera that was running, pointing north to the intersection of Wauneta’s main street.
From the tape, while filming quite a distance away, Sutherland said two individuals can be made out entering the lot at 12:45 a.m., and leaving at 1:09 a.m. with a pickup and trailer.
However, not much other detail can be seen.
“It does give us a timeline, though,” Sutherland said.
“It didn’t take them long. They knew what they were doing,” he said.
Police Chief Browning agreed, saying the incidents weren’t run-of-the-mill thefts, and probably involved “expert” thieves. He said very few vehicle thefts have occurred in Imperial over the years that weren’t later recovered.
There is some speculation that the thieves abandoned the Harchelroad pickup west of Imperial, possibly in favor of the one stolen from Mandeville later that morning.
As with the Imperial police, the trailer stolen from Wauneta has been reported to the NCIC, Sutherland said. Deputy Vince Lopez investigated the Wauneta thefts.