Man arrested after allegedly stealing SUV from elementary school parking lot

A Homer man who had allegedly been living in a stolen SUV for three weeks was arrested in Soldotna for vehicle theft on Tuesday.

Therin L. Crauthers, 29, was charged with first-degree vehicle theft, a class C felony, after police found him in the driver’s seat of a reportedly stolen green Ford Expedition in a Soldotna residential driveway, according to a police affidavit filed with the court.

The alleged theft was reported to police Feb. 14, but the Expedition’s owner told police that the SUV had been missing since Jan. 28, according to the affidavit.

The owner said he parked the SUV in the Kalifornsky Beach Elementary School lot on Jan. 26 and left it there overnight. When he returned the next day someone had rummaged through the vehicle, taking miscellaneous items worth about $275, and keys from the ignition, he told police. The man said that because the keys were missing, he left the SUV in the parking lot, according to the affidavit.

The owner told police that when he returned the next day, the SUV — which he estimated was worth about $1,500 — was missing, according to the affidavit.

Security footage reviewed by police showed a red 1990s Ford Explorer pulling into the elementary school parking lot in the early morning hours of Jan. 27. The car left, and then returned the early morning of Jan. 28, at which point the Ford Expedition was driven out of the parking lot, according to the police affidavit.

On Feb. 20, police found a green Ford Expedition with license plates matching the stolen vehicle in a driveway in Soldotna.

Crauthers, who was in the SUV when it was found, initially told police he had bought the vehicle. He later told police that another man had driven him in a red Ford Explorer to the elementary school parking lot, according to the affidavit.

He said that when he first came across the vehicle he only planned to take the SUV’s battery, but took the keys out of the ignition instead, according to the affidavit. He told police he returned later and took the SUV, and that he had been living in the vehicle for the past few weeks, according to the affidavit.

Reach Erin Thompson at ethompson@peninsulaclarion.com.

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