By Brett Nachtigall
HOT SPRINGS – The Hot Springs Police Department is currently investigating a stolen vehicle incident, which occurred sometime during the night on Saturday, May 4, at 110 5th Street, near downtown Hot Springs. The vehicle, a 2001 silver Toyota Avalon with 27L license plates, is owned by Mary Ann Reynolds and Dylan Smith, and had Make A Wish and Autism Awareness magnets on the back.
According to Hot Springs Chief of Police Mike Close, the vehicle was last seen parked on the street in front of the family’s home at around 10:30 p.m on Saturday night. It was reported stolen the following day at around 12 noon when the owners went outside to mow the lawn.
Close said that a neighbor thought he saw the vehicle leave the neighborhood sometime between 2 a.m and 3 a.m. The theft has been reported to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) so it will be recognized as a stolen vehicle should it be involved in an incident involving law enforcement anywhere in the country.
One of the owners, Mary Ann Reynolds, said the theft of their family vehicle is putting them in a potentially dire situation as the car served as the only mode of transportation to ensure their six-year-old son Gaven can get to his medical appointments in Rapid City and elsewhere.
Gaven was born with a congenital heart defects and has had four open heart surgeries in his young life. His mom said he travels to Rapid City at least once per month and has an appointment scheduled in Sioux Falls in June.
Close said that he doesn’t believe the stolen car incident is necessarily related to other recent crimes , despite a recent rash of other vehicles being entered and having items stolen out of them. He said those individuals have been identified and apprehended.
Close feels that it was likely a “crime of opportunity” as the keys were left in the vehicle over night.
Reynolds said that while the keys were in the car, they were placed under the seat and out of view, and that whoever took the vehicle would have had to first find them to steal the car.
Close said, that as the weather continues to get nicer, more and more people will be out walking around and looking for opportunities to take advantage of situations. For that reason, he wants to remind residents of the importance of not leaving valuables in vehicles over night, and especially not in plain view of pedestrians.
Reynolds commented how shocked she was to have something like this happen in her relatively safe neighborhood of Hot Springs. She added how they had previously lived in a rough neighborhood of Sioux Falls, where something like this is more expected, but never had an problems there.
She said that she feels “horribly violated” following the incident but her main priority is her son and ensuring that they will be able to find suitable transportation to get him to and from his upcoming appointments. She added that they will likely be relying heavily on friends and family for assistance.
Close said that if anyone has information that will assist with the search for the vehicle to contact the Hot Springs Police Department at 745-5200.
Reynolds added, that if anyone wanted to provide assistance to their family during, there is an account set up at the Bank of the West in Hot Springs under Gaven’s father’s name, Dylan Smith.