Joy riders stole eight cars from a Spokane auto dealership late Sunday or early Monday, driving one of them through a fence and setting fire to another.
It appeared to be nothing more than a wanton act of destruction, police said.
Officers arrested five teenagers Monday evening as they went freewheeling through downtown Spokane. The teens, described by police as “buddies,” were booked into the Juvenile Detention Center on suspicion of car theft.
One teen had a criminal record, according to police, who did not release their identities. Police are seeking at least one other youth in the thefts.
Police arrested two teens at a restaurant on West Third. Others were arrested at nearby apartments.
The cars were taken from Downtown Toyota, 1208 W. Third. An employee discovered the damage about 8 a.m. Monday and called police.
Vehicles stolen in the spree included a 1991 Lincoln Continental, a 1995 Honda Accord LX, a 1992 Toyota Paseo and a 1997 Mercury Tracer.
Five of the cars were recovered, including the Tracer, which was found burning several miles from the dealership.
The thieves gained access to the vehicles by smashing the driver’s side windows to get at the small lock boxes inside the cars. They then broke open the lock boxes to get the keys.
Downtown Toyota sales manager Pat McCarthy was exasperated by the thefts.
“They’re not even stealing them to sell. They’re just driving them somewhere and leaving them or torching them.”
It was the second mass theft from an Inland Northwest car dealership in the past nine days. On Aug. 22, four Spokane teenagers stole three cars from Post Falls Mazda, then led Washington state troopers on a chase before being arrested.