A group of teenagers threatened a man with a metal pole, stole his wallet and sped away in his car early Tuesday, after slamming a stolen Jeep Cherokee through a fence on his Spokane Valley property.
Spokane County sheriff’s deputies recovered Jim Nypen’s car about half an hour later. The silver 1985 Chrysler New Yorker sedan was abandoned in front of a house at 6111 E. 11th, where police believe the teens set out on foot.
The car had not been damaged, but $275 was taken from its ashtray. The thieves made off with an additional $100 from Nypen’s wallet.
Nypen, who had withdrawn the money in the ashtray the night before to renew his license tabs, said he stumbled onto his assailants - three males and two females in their late teens - as he was leaving for work shortly before 6 a.m.
As Nypen eased the car out of his driveway at 7922 E. Beverly and onto the gravel drive that leads to Beverly, he noticed five people asleep inside the 1995 Jeep Cherokee.
The green sport-utility vehicle had plowed through a wire and barbed-wire fence Nypen built to block off a gravel road that entered his property from the southeast. The Cherokee was high-centered on a boulder behind the fence.
Nypen pounded on the window of the Jeep and asked to see some identification. He drove back to the house to get a piece of paper to write down the license plate number and tell his wife to call deputies.
When Nypen returned, the teenagers were trying to pry the Jeep loose. One of the men grabbed Nypen. While he held Nypen, the other waved a piece of metal fence post at him.
“I said there’s no need to pry it off, the cops are on the way,” Nypen said. “That’s when they got excited and threatened me with a piece of the fence post. They told me to give them my car keys. Then they asked me to give them my wallet.
“I’m surprised they didn’t start hitting me with the pipe. I think they would’ve if I hadn’t given them my keys when I did.”
Nypen, whose house is hidden among large pine trees and sits at the base of a gentle slope on three sides, said he did not know why the group was parked there, but said he thought they had been there all night.
“They said, ‘Oh, we must have been drinking too much,”’ Nypen said.
“I am uneasy about them having my keys still,” said Patty Nypen, Jim’s wife. “I feel like I want to change the locks. They have his car keys, the house keys.”
The three male suspects “spoke with a Russian accent,” said sheriff’s spokesman Lt. David Wiyrick.