When Chris Hempel returned to her family’s rural property and found the gate’s lock cut, she was expecting to find thieves had broken into their cabin.
What she didn’t count on was finding the entire cabin missing.
“We drove up to the cabin and the cabin was gone, it was just an empty hole where it used to sit,” she said.
Hempel, her husband, and their two children have owned property just outside of Springdale for about four years, and say the forest is a perfect place to hunt, relax and get away from work on the weekends.
They visit their cabin about every two weeks, but returned on April 7 to find the structure missing – stolen off its foundation.
“We’re just kind of at a loss right now. Like, seriously?” she said.
Their log cabin was built by Birky’s Better Built Barns, a Clayton company. It had tongue and groove cedar walls and two lofts inside.
“It’s something that’d be pretty difficult to take apart in pieces,” Hempel said.
Stevens County workers had been clearing some trees near their gate, which opened up space for someone to drive around the gate, she said. She found tire tracks and guesses the thief drove in, backed up a trailer, loaded the cabin in one piece, then cut the gate lock to make an escape.
The cabin isn’t visible from the gravel road it sits on, and few cars pass through.
“People that don’t know the area probably aren’t going to be traveling on it,” she said.
The family’s last trip to their cabin was March 21, so all Hempel knows is that someone must have stolen it during those two and a half weeks. Neighbors didn’t hear anything, which makes her think the thieves may have come at night.
Though the cabin didn’t have electricity or a septic system hookup, the 10-by-20 foot structure would have been hard to move without a trailer and some advance planning. But Hempel is at a loss to figure out who might have wanted to take their cabin.
“We’ve never had a bit of trouble. There’s been nobody up there,” she said.
The family is hoping word of mouth might yield some clues to the whereabouts of their second home. A post on the Facebook group “To Catch a Thief – Spokane” was shared nearly 100 times by Wednesday, and Hempel has also reported the theft to the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office.
Insurance money will cover the contents of the cabin, but Hempel said they won’t pay for the structure itself because it doesn’t have electricity.
She’s hoping with enough attention, someone will be able to locate the missing cabin and return it to its home in the woods.