Five teen-aged boys from Flathead County are facing charges after Columbia Falls Police said they stole a car and a gun during a Halloween crime spree in the city.
The police department received several reports of unlocked vehicles being entered and items being stolen, including a handgun. Other residents reported their tires were slashed and one resident reported his vehicle had been stolen after he left the keys inside the vehicle by mistake, according to a press release.
The spree began shortly after midnight, according to Columbia Falls Police Chief Clint Peters.
At about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday the stolen vehicle was located at the Zip Trip in Whitefish with one boy inside. Four other boys who were involved were located nearby. Inside the stolen vehicle were several items that were taken from vehicles within the Columbia Falls city limits.
“Most of the recovered property had not been reported stolen or missing and we ask that if you are missing any items from your vehicle that you contact our department so we can return your items and document the theft for our ongoing investigation,” Peters said. “We have been able to determine that the thefts of property from the motor vehicles, tire slashings, and the theft of the motor vehicle were all directly tied to these same juveniles. The names of the involved juveniles will not be released because of their age.”
Peters also indicated that although there have been similar cases in recent months, it didn’t appear that the five teens were involved in the previous vehicle trespasses or tire-slashing incidents.
“The juveniles do not match the build or other physical characteristics of the suspects seen in surveillance video of these previous incidents,” Peters said.
He also urged residents to lock their doors on their vehicles and homes.
“Leaving your vehicles unlocked and having items of value in your vehicle creates an easy opportunity for someone to steal your property. Please help us protect our community by locking up your valuables, storing your firearms in a secure area, and reporting any suspicious activity promptly,” Peters said.
The juveniles, whose identities were not released, included one 13-year-old, three 14-year-olds and one 15-year-old. They are facing charges of felony car theft, and several misdemeanor charges, including marijuana possession, theft and criminal mischief.
Peters also thanked those who provided tips and information that lead to the arrests and recovery of the stolen vehicle and other property.