South Whidbey teens arrested after string of car thefts

A car-stealing spree that began in Coupeville on Tuesday, ended in Oak Harbor, and finally concluded with an arrest on South Whidbey Wednesday morning wasn’t a Whidbey version of the popular film “Gone in 60 seconds.”

Rather, the suspects are two South Whidbey teens who found themselves looking for a ride home after a day in truancy court, police say.

According to Lt. Evan Tingstad with the Island County Sheriff’s Office, the two boys, both age 16, allegedly stole a total of four cars before one was caught in a botched attempt to evade police. The other was scooped up the next day when his accomplice revealed all.

No one was hurt in the incident, including the boys. One is from Langley, the other Clinton. As of Friday, neither had been charged with a crime. Both have been released into their parents’ custody.

According to Tingstad, the first boy who was arrested told the following story.

The incident began late Tuesday night. One of the boys had a truancy court hearing in Coupeville earlier in the day; it’s not clear whether the second boy attended in support or whether the two met up later.

Whatever the case, at about 11 p.m. Tuesday, March 21, the teens were preparing to head home but had reportedly missed the bus. That’s when they allegedly sought alternative transportation.

“They decided they were going to look for a car to steal to get home,” Tingstad said.

The boys allegedly found an unlocked 2003 Dodge Dakota with the keys still in the vehicle, but instead of heading toward South Whidbey, they turned north to Oak Harbor. Once they arrived, Tingstad said they bought a few non-alcoholic “teen” beverages and then got into more mischief.

“So the passenger decides he wants his own stolen car,” Tingstad said.

The second vehicle was a Volvo. That car was also unlocked and had the keys inside. However, the Volvo reportedly had mechanical problems, so the boys ditched the car and ended up at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island housing, where they located a home with an open garage, Tingstad said.

There they found two Hyundais, both of which were unlocked with keys still inside. Rolling out the cars so as not to awaken the residents, the two then fired them up and drove off, leaving the Dodge behind.

Suspicious base security officers attempted to pull the cars over and the cars split up. One of the drivers was apprehended when he lost control of the car and wrecked; the other drove back to the Dodge, re-commandeered the vehicle and drove back to South Whidbey. It was found ditched near a beach access at Sunlight Beach.

According to Tingstad, the apprehended teen confessed the whole story to police and his friend was subsequently taken into custody early Wednesday morning.

The case involves three different agencies: the Island County Sheriff’s Office, the Oak Harbor Police Department and Naval Air Station Whidbey Island security. Base communications staff declined to comment as the case is still an ongoing investigation.

Tingstad said car thefts on Whidbey aren’t as uncommon as people think and offered the following advice.

“We suggest people lock their cars and take the keys out of the ignition,” he said.

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