Woman watches as suspicious man drives off with her car; arrest made

GRANGEVILLE – A common sight this time of year is unattended vehicles warming up in frosty driveways.

What isn’t as common in those moments is watching a thief drive off with your car.

Cottonwood resident Dewayne E. Smith, 42, has been charged with grand theft, a felony, for allegedly stealing a Grangeville woman’s car as it sat idling. He is scheduled this Friday, Jan. 24, for a court hearing on this and a related misdemeanor charge of possession of paraphernalia (syringe) with intent to use.

The incident was reported Jan. 10, 6:10 a.m., 200 block of East North Street, at the Mike and Angie Murphy residence. According to Grangeville Police Chief Morgan Drew, Angie had left her blue 2002 Pontiac Grand Am running in the driveway, unlocked, when she noticed a man outside near her home acting suspiciously. She was in the act of dialing police, Drew said, “when he got in her car and took it.”

As GPD Officer Wes Walters was leaving the police department en route to the call, he spotted the suspect at West North and North College streets; he initiated a traffic stop, and as Walters approached the vehicle it drove off. Walters followed the vehicle and was assisted by Idaho County Sheriff’s Deputy Sam Clark who pulled in front of and stopped the vehicle at North Junction and East North streets intersection.

No vehicle damage was reported, and Smith was compliant at the scene and taken into custody. According to Drew, Smith reportedly stated he received permission to take the car from a person at the scene he was unable to identify.

“No one expects this to happen but it occasionally does,” Drew said, when people leave vehicles running unattended and unlocked during the winter months. He advises motorists to keep a second key on hand so they can secure their vehicle while it warms up. Also in this situation he complimented the fast action of officers Walters and Clark.

“They did an outstanding job,” he said, “getting the car stopped before it could get away.”

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