By JOSH VARDAMAN
Courier staff writer
---- — OTTUMWA — A report of a stolen vehicle in Ottumwa turned into a puzzle of sorts for the Wapello County Sheriff’s Department on New Year’s Eve.
Early in the morning on Dec. 31, sheriff’s deputies were notified that a 2000 Ford Mustang had been reportedly stolen from a resident in Ottumwa. The search for that vehicle went on with few results until a call came in from Kirkville about another stolen vehicle.
The report did not seem different from a regular vehicle theft simply reading that a red 1992 Ford pickup truck had mysteriously disappeared, but things were soon to get strange.
The call of the second theft came from a Kirkville resident in the 200 block of McCarroll Street at approximately 3:57 a.m. Wapello County Sheriff’s officials went to the scene to investigate and found something a little odd not far from the scene.
The 2000 Ford Mustang that had been reported as stolen from Ottumwa was discovered not far from where the report of the stolen Ford pickup had occurred. One of the vehicles that had been reported as stolen had been found, but now a new search began for a second stolen car. The craziness didn’t stop there, either.
Wapello County deputies were later notified that the Ford pickup truck had been found in Mahaska County. That did not stop the weird day, however. Shortly after the Mahaska County Sheriff’s Department notified Wapello County that the pickup truck had been found, a third report of a stolen vehicle and various items from a garage was issued not far from where the Ford pickup was found in Mahaska County.
That made three stolen vehicles, and each time one of the vehicles was found, a new report of a stolen vehicle was issued not far from where the previous was discovered.
“It was like a stolen vehicle crime spree,” Wapello County Sheriff Mark Miller said.
The third vehicle was found by the Keokuk County Sheriff Department, and when they discovered the stolen car, a short chase followed. After the deputies were able to get the vehicle to a stop, the driver and passenger of the stolen vehicle were arrested and charged with multiple offenses from each of the three counties involved in the case.
Keith Hewitt, 28, of Ottumwa, was charged with driving offenses in Keokuk County, third-degree burglary in Mahaska County and two counts of second-degree theft in Wapello County. Daniel Fields, 26, also of Ottumwa, was charged with third-degree burglary in Mahaska County and two counts of second-degree theft in Wapello County.
According to Miller, the Wapello County Sheriff’s Department believes that all three vehicles were indeed stolen by Hewitt and Fields. The two were arrested and taken to the Mahaska County Jail, where they remain on $5,000 bonds.
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