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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Pickup stolen from car lot recovered from Spokane River; driver not located

UPDATED: Wed., June 16, 2021

A tow truck pulled a stolen pickup out of the Spokane River above the Upriver Dam on Wednesday morning.

A dive team from the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office didn’t find anything inside or near the black Dodge Ram but bubbles, said Sgt. Jerad Kiehn.

A passerby saw lights in the river and pulled over, Kiehn said. The bystander then saw the lights disappear and called 911 at about 3:30 a.m.

The dive team and the Spokane Fire Department responded, initially believing it was a rescue situation, Kiehn said.

Divers found the truck but no one was inside, Kiehn said. After doing a 360-degree search around the car and some of the surrounding area, Kiehn said they shifted to recovery mode.

Once the truck was pulled out of the water, officers found an ATM machine inside and believe the truck was likely used in a burglary, said Julie Humphreys, a police department spokesman.

The Ram had not been reported stolen as of early Wednesday morning, Kiehn said, but just a few hours later, the owner of NextGen Auto Sales, Shane Lunceford, realized the truck was one he had just picked up Monday from Seattle.

Lunceford woke up to calls from neighbors saying the door to his used car lot was “busted in,” he said. Then he saw reports of the truck being removed from the river.

The first employee to arrive at NextGen had already called the police, Lunceford said. Surveillance video showed one man in a blue shirt with a black hat and black shorts.

“Well, somebody did a smash and grab and stole the keys out of the key box that’s locked up in the back and stole the truck,” Lunceford said.

Lunceford said he thinks at least three people were involved, one scoping out the business, another stealing the truck, and a third who came back to take the wheels and tires off a Subaru on the lot. Police did “as much as they could possibly do,” Lunceford said.

No one had been arrested in connection to the crime as of Wednesday afternoon, according to the Spokane Police Department.

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