OTTUMWA — This month's car thefts were not confined to Davis County, moving five law enforcement agencies to chase down — both literally and metaphorically — the suspects responsible for stealing and wrecking the vehicles.
Wapello County Sheriff Chief Deputy Don Phillips scrolled through a list of a total of 18 vehicles that have been stolen in the last two weeks: eight from Davis County, five from Wapello County and five from Jefferson County.
There are now four suspects in custody, though Phillips said he still expects more arrests to be made.
William McCarroll, 18, and Cody Surber, 18, both of Ottumwa, were each charged last week with several counts and varying degrees of theft, all felonies. Both are being held in Davis County Jail on $10,000 cash-only bond and $5,000 cash-only bond, respectively.
A 17-year-old Ottumwa boy, Devan Harland, was also charged with possession of stolen property and several counts of second-degree theft in connection with three cars stolen from Ottumwa and two from Eddyville on Thursday. He's being held in the Lee County Juvenile Detention Center.
On Tuesday, a fourth individual was picked up on a warrant: Jesse James Clawson, 26, of Ottumwa. He was charged with possession of stolen property and is being held in Wapello County Jail on $5,000 cash-only bond.
"For lack of a better term, they were playing 'demolition derby' with these vehicles," Phillips said. "These vehicles sustained a lot of damage, most from running the vehicles into each other. One vehicle is [submerged] in Lake Arrowhead, and one was in the [Des Moines] River behind Winger."
The thefts have proven that people should not leave their keys in their vehicles, Phillips said, something most in rural areas think they can do without worrying about someone stealing their car. Keys were left in nearly all of the 18 stolen vehicles, he said.