By Tom Lotshaw
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Three Placerville teens are in custody in South Lake Tahoe in connection with a series of vehicle thefts reported in the city Monday and Tuesday.
Arrested on felony charges of auto theft, possession of stolen property and conspiracy to commit a crime are Brian Christopher Barnes, 18; Sean Patrick Murphy, 18; and Elijah Corylane Kidwell, 18. Kidwell also faces a preliminary felony charge of burglary and Barnes also faces a preliminary felony charge of possession of a controlled substance, according to jail records.
South Lake Tahoe Police said at least three vehicles were stolen over 16 hours. Property also was stolen from several unlocked cars. In each auto theft, the vehicle had been left unlocked with the keys inside. Only one of the stolen vehicles has been recovered as of Wednesday morning.
The rash of vehicle thefts started Monday evening when a white 1991 Jeep Cherokee with orange and red stripes and California plate 2WLV403 was stolen from a home on Bowers Avenue. Less than a mile away at about 10:40 p.m., a 1991 Subaru Outback was stolen from the parking lot of Inn by the Lake on Lake Tahoe Boulevard.
Tuesday morning, around 9 a.m., a Lodi Avenue resident observed at least three men stealing items from his unlocked vehicle parked out front. When the resident went out to investigate the suspects fled in the stolen Subaru, which police later found abandoned in the parking lot of the Nickelodeon Motel on Lake Tahoe Boulevard.
South Lake Tahoe Police and El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office deputies searched the area around the motel and found the three suspects at Grocery Outlet, where at least one more victim had discovered items stolen from an unlocked vehicle in the store’s parking lot.
The three suspects were identified with the help of the Lodi Avenue resident and were found to be in possession of property reported stolen, police said in a news release.
While the suspects were being booked into jail at around 10:45 a.m. Tuesday, a third vehicle was stolen from the parking lot of McDonald’s on Emerald Bay Road. It is a forest green 1996 Subaru Legacy sedan with California plate 6A0N070. Like the Jeep Cherokee, it has not been recovered.
Police believe there are more people than just the three suspects arrested associated with the rash of crimes, Lt. Brian Williams said.
Police also believe there are more thefts that have not been reported and are asking for the public’s help to watch for the unrecovered stolen vehicles. People should call 911 if the vehicles are seen.