A truck reported stolen last week in Ringgold County was located Monday morning in Thayer, but was lost after a deputy followed the vehicle in speeds excess of 80 mph.
The 2005 white Ford F350 was observed by officers at approximately 10:40 a.m. outside a house in Thayer after a witness identified the vehicle.
Union County Sheriff Mark Shepherd and Chief Deputy Christopher Knouse made the decision to obtain a search warrant in order to recover the vehicle.
Though Knouse said a search warrant is necessary in order to retrieve stolen property, Iowa Code states, “It shall be the duty of any peace officer who finds a vehicle, and who has reasonable cause to believe that the possessor of the vehicle wrongfully holds it, to forthwith seize it, either with or without warrant, and deliver it to the sheriff of the county in which it is seized.”
Knouse said the vehicle left the house before they could obtain a search warrant. “When I turned in behind the vehicle, he knew who I was. He took off,” Knouse said. “We were traveling at speeds of 80 to 90 mph on gravel roads.” The vehicle left Thayer at approximately 12:10 p.m., 90 minutes after being seen by officers.
While there was option to block-in the vehicle to prevent the truck from being lost or damaged, Knouse said it was too dangerous. “Tactically that’s not a smart decision,” he said. “If you’re blocking the car, sitting in front of somebody’s house, that can be a dangerous situation.”
A local witness said they let him leave on purpose. “It’s a joke,” he said. “They had him dead to rights. There were three officers in town, and there are only two exits.”
While following the vehicle, Knouse never activated lights or sirens. “I was a couple tenths of a mile behind him,” he said. “My plan was to wait until I got closer to him before activating my lights.”
As they traveled north into Clarke and Madison counties, Knouse requested aid. By the time participating counties were in the area, Knouse had lost sight of the vehicle.
“We had a lot of help there,” Knouse said. “I don’t know if they pulled in somewhere and hid out or what.”
The vehicle was not located. The truck is described as a four-door long box with a black front bumper. It has tinted cab marker lights, tinted rear tail lights and aftermarket head lights. If seen, call the Ringgold County Sheriff’s Office at (641) 464-3921.
The witness said thefts like this have been happening in Lorimor and Thayer for several years. “They aren’t doing anything about it. If it was my vehicle and that happened, I would be fighting against it,” he said. “I’m sure there’s going to be a lawsuit on why this happened.”