October 22, 1996 in Nation/World

Vince Faces A New Survival Test - Dealing With Kidnappers We’ll See Who Breaks First

By The Spokesman-Review
 

The search is on for a national spokesman for seat belt use - kidnapped from a Spokane family values fair. Friends fear he’ll be held captive until Halloween.

Vince - the crash-test dummy seen in TV commercials with his partner Larry- was swiped Saturday from the Spokane Convention Center during Family-a-Fair.

Someone took Vince - actually a costume warn by strolling performers during safety fairs and other promotions - from a closet between 5:15 and 6 p.m., said Adie Goldberg-Yates, co-director of Family-a-Fair.

“We’re saddened that Vince isn’t with his brother,” Goldberg-Yates said Monday. “We’re all about families, and now this. Larry wants him home.”

Goldberg-Yates figures someone “borrowed” the costume for Halloween.

“We’re asking people to be on the lookout for trick-or-treaters dressed like a crash-test dummy,” she said.

Spokane County officials borrowed the Vince and Larry costumes from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission especially for Family-a-Fair, said Peggy Hodges, the county’s coordinator of traffic safety programs.

The theft is a blow to seat belt safety promotion, Hodges said. “It means we don’t have our dynamic duo to promote safety belt use,” she said.

There’s more to this tale than theft, deception and broken partnerships, though. There’s also money.

The missing costume is worth about $1,500.

Unless it “magically reappears” in the next couple of days, the county probably will be on the hook for the money to replace the outfit, Hodges said.

A police report has been filed and an all-points bulletin issued. No reward has been offered.

Family-a-Fair officials won’t pursue criminal charges as long as Vince is returned unharmed.

“Just put him in a brown paper bag and drop him by the Family-a-Fair office,” said Goldberg-Yates, who works at 910 W. Fifth, Suite 510. “We won’t ask any questions.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo


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