The thief left nothing but a skid mark in the gravel driveway.
Travis Johnson’s prize 1969 Chevrolet pickup - recently restored and painted gleaming orange - was gone.
When Johnson returned to his Spokane Valley home shortly after 2 a.m. Sunday, he parked his pickup next to his house. Some time between then and sunrise, Johnson said, the pickup was stolen.
“I know I locked it up,” Johnson said. “I had my keys in my hand. You have to lock it from the outside. I always lock my stuff up.”
He used money earned from a part-time job at Shopko and money from the sale of a Toyota pickup to buy and restore the ‘69 Chevy. Johnson estimated his four-wheeldrive pickup was worth between $7,000 and $8,000.
Mitch Silver, owner of Silver Collector Car Auctions, said the 1969-72 Chevy pickup’s good looks and wide range of options have made them attractive to collectors for the last four or five years.
“They’re a very hot item for collectors in the Northwest,” Silver said.
Johnson’s wasn’t the only vintage Chevy pickup stolen recently.
Pete Marks, owner of PM Auto Sales, said a pair of Chevy pickups, a gold 1969 and dark green 1971, together valued at about $5,000, were stolen from his lot at 3711 E. Sprague over Memorial Day weekend.
Sgt. Gary Smith, head of the auto theft division for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Department, said investigators have not detected a trend relating to the thefts of collectible pickups, however.
“(Three) doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a trend,” Smith said.
But auto thefts are on the rise. After hitting a five-year low in 1993, the number of thefts reported last year grew by nearly 100 to 624, and is expected to continue growing. About 60 percent of stolen vehicles are recovered, Smith said.
“We hear a lot of rumors about possible chop shops, but we haven’t been able to confirm or deny any,” Smith said. “But of course, all it takes is for one chop shop operating efficiently to cause trouble.”
Juvenile charged in theft
A 16-year-old boy was arrested Wednesday in Liberty Lake and charged with stealing a pickup.
Deputy Michael Beckman had just taken a stolen vehicle report from the owner of the 1987 Jeep Comanche, when he spotted the red pickup near a Liberty Lake shopping center, Sheriff’s Department spokesman Lt. Dave Wiyrick said.
The youth was charged with auto theft and taken to juvenile detention.
Fire damages home
A fire blackened the side of a home in the Valley early Sunday morning and burned curtains inside a boy’s bedroom.
Justin Shane, 12, was in his bedroom when the fire started.
While Dennis Shane, Justin’s father, waited for firefighters to arrived, he tried unsuccessfully to put out the fire with two fire extinguishers and a pan of water.
Firefighters were able to put out the fire before it spread beyond the curtains.
The fire also burned trees and pine needles under a canopy next to the house.
Nobody was injured.
Damage was estimated at $5,000.
Valley man charged with forgery
A Valley man was arrested Wednesday on forgery charges after he was released from the hospital.
Thomas Carlson, 22, 901 N. Lily, was arrested at Valley Hospital and Medical Center after he was treated and released for an unknown injury.
Deputies ran a records check on Carlson and discovered an outstanding warrant for the forgery. He was taken to the Spokane County Jail.
Carlson is being held on a $2,500 bond.