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Omaha Police warn about rash of Jeep thefts

Posted at 5:11 PM, Aug 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-18 19:51:20-04

“I came outside to realize that the Jeep was gone and my fiancé had walked out behind me and realized that the truck was gone too,” said an Omaha woman who wished to remain anonymous.

This woman who we will refer to as Ashley took to Facebook last Wednesday when two cars were taken from her driveway near 85th and Dodge.

"I was absolutely disgusted,” said Ashley.

A Facebook friend tipped Ashley off that she spotted her beloved ’99 Jeep Cherokee driving in the Florence area. 

“I just started driving and driving and driving.  I went through three tanks of gas looking for my Jeep,” said Ashley.

Ashley found her Jeep near 37th and Newport.  The tires had been changed and dealer plates were added.  But, she recognized her distinct gold rings on the back of the Jeep.  Ashley called 911 and waited for police. 

“They had put 600 miles on it in 30 hours,” said Ashley.

The back window was broken and the ignition was ripped out.  Insurance had to total out her Jeep.  Police have yet to catch the crook. 

"I noticed that my Jeep was gone and immediately I freaked out,” said high school senior Marcus Sandlin.

A similar theft happened over the weekend near Westroads Mall. 

“As you can see the ignition is right here, they ripped it out,” said Sandlin.

Police found 17-year-old Marcus Sandlin’s Jeep abandoned at an apartment complex near 73rd and Wirt after it had been spotted driving through yards. 

“It's not a good feeling to know that somebody else was in my vehicle causing problems,” said Sandlin.

The reckless driver put a hole in Sandlin’s engine causing thousands of dollars in damage. 

“In about a month and a half we've seen 18 thefts of these vehicles,” said Officer Michael Pecha.

Police say late 1990’s to early 2000 Jeep Cherokees are being targeted by thieves. 

“A majority of them have been recovered, however we are not necessarily seeing any specific trends in term of location where they're being stolen from,” said Officer Pecha.

To prevent theft police recommend parking in a well lit area if you don’t have a garage. 

Jason Fett, who hopes to repair Sandlin’s Jeep says Cherokees are easy to steal and by spending $20 on an anti-theft club, it could save you a lot of money in the long run.

“They're taking these because they're easy to steal and if you take the easy out of it, they'll go and take another one," said Fett. 

Sandlin has a GoFundMe page set-up, if you’d like to donate click here https://www.gofundme.com/2ju5j24