Followup: Story of stolen Escalade, sold by police, crosses state lines

The stolen Escalade had traveled through two countries and across many state lines before it landed in Washington, where Bremerton police inadvertently sold it at an auction. 

We told you about this particular Cadillac Escalade in early October, after the unknowing purchaser of the SUV had it seized by the Washington State Patrol. In turn, he filed a lawsuit against the Bremerton Police Department.

The city’s lawyers have been digging into the case to figure out what happened. While the lawsuit continues, here’s what they’ve found out thus far: the Escalade was seized in a 2003 coke bust and, per Washington law, forfeited to the police department.

Police checked with the Washington State Department of  Licensing to see if it was stolen.

“There was no evidence that the vehicle was stolen,” Bremerton Assistant City Attorney Mark Koontz said in a statement. “The police department eventually sold the vehicle at  auction as authorized by state law.”

It wasn’t until summer 2011 that police here found out the Washington State Patrol had seized the SUV, finding it was stolen. State patrol officials informed the city the Escalade was stolen off an auto dealer’s lot in Canada in 2002, before it landed in Indiana, Missouri, Michigan and finally, Washington.

Much mystery still shrouds the how and why it went state to state, as it was never reported stolen in that time, city attorney said.

But state troopers were able to uncover its identity by finding more obscure locations of its Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). The number had been falsified in its more obvious locations on the dash board in in the driver’s side door.

Koontz said rarely does local law enforcement have specialized training at finding hidden VIN numbers and believes “the police department acted reasonably,” in backgrounding the SUV before auctioning it off.

“Even so, the city is hopeful that it can reach a resolution to this matter to the satisfaction of all parties,” he said.

I’ve not yet heard back from the lawyer for the plaintiff in the case, but I’ll let you know when I do.

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