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  • Last modified 128 days ago (Dec. 13, 2017)

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Unholy thief makes opportunistic car steal from church

Unlocked with keys in it, vehicle was an easy mark, officer says

News editor

Ryan Olson was ready to hop in his car and head home Sunday evening when he came out of Zion Lutheran Church.

However, his dark blue 1989 Buick Regal, parked unlocked behind the church with the keys in it, was nowhere to be found.

“It was gone,” Olson said. “Who would expect that in Hillsboro? An individual that will do such a thing doesn’t recognize that the church is supposed to be a safe haven. It must have been a ‘by chance’ thing.”

Hillsboro police were on scene within minutes, Olson said.

“Two officers were out and immediately scoured the town and notified county communications to involve Peabody, Marion, and sheriff,” Hillsboro assistant chief Jessey Hiebert said.

Vehicle information also was entered in a system that notified surrounding counties of the theft, but as of Tuesday, the car remained missing, Hiebert said.

“My shift partner and I have kept looking to make sure it’s not in an alleyway or in someone’s yard,” he said. “There aren’t any surveillance cameras in that area we were able to tap into. As far as suspects, we don’t have anyone standing out.”

Hiebert speculated on what might have led to the theft.

“Probably what happened here is that someone was going to commit a vehicle burglary and was shaking door handles,” he said. “It was already dark so they didn’t have to wait until midnight. They’ll go inside and rummage for loose change and things of value. This one happened to have the keys in it.”

Hillsboro experienced a string of car break-ins earlier this year, Hiebert said.

“They were just walking down the street,” he said. “If it was unlocked they’d get inside, if not they’d keep going.”

Other drivers should take note of what happened and take simple steps to keep safe, particularly during the holiday shopping season.

“Back in 1993 when I moved here, I’ll bet nobody locked their homes, locked their cars,” he said. “Things have changed. Just lock your car no matter where you are.”

Christmas shoppers should stash their purchases in a trunk, if they have one, or conceal them as best they can.

Olson said pastor John Werner drove his family home Sunday. They have alternative transportation.

“We got that so my daughter could get back and forth to school activities (in Goessel),” Olson said. “She’ll get to drive the farm vehicle.”

Olson said this was the first time anything like this had ever happened to him.

“You just can’t take anything for granted,” he said. “Obviously, park in lighted areas and lock the vehicle, no matter where you live.”

Last modified Dec. 13, 2017

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