Gillette residents launch private investigation into stolen vans

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As Gillette police step up their investigation into a trio of stolen vans found abandoned on Monday, a group of residents have decided to take the investigation into their own hands.

The vans were all taken from residences in and around Gillette between May 21 and May 24, according to reports from the Gillette Police Department (GPD).

One, a 2005 Dodge Ram taken from a Lakeway Road business, was found drivable and abandoned on Redrock Road by Campbell County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) deputies; its ignition had been tampered with to allow ignition with a screwdriver, according to Deputy Sheriff Quentin Reynolds.

Another, a 2002 Ford F-150 stolen from apartments on Express Drive, was also abandoned and recovered on Grandview Drive.

The third, a white 2002 Ford F-250 taken from a residence near Foothills Boulevard, was found near Lakeway Road and Cedar Street. Like the Dodge Ram, the F-250 had its ignition tampered with. Unlike the others, however, the pickup’s dashboard had been ransacked, with the suspects removing the stereo and a set of speakers from the back seat, according to GPD Lt. Kelly Alger.

A photo of the stolen 2002 Ford F-250 in the Foothills Boulevard area. (Photo credit: Tyrel Martinson)

Gillette police have begun investigating the incident to identify and apprehend the suspects responsible and have built a fairly solid case, Alger said on May 26.

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But friends and family of Kameron Martinson, the owner of the F-250 stolen from Foothills, believe Gillette’s police efforts aren’t enough to bring the culprits to justice and don’t believe police are prioritizing the incident. case as it should.

“This van is my brother’s pride and joy,” Kameron’s brother Tyrel Martinson said in a recent County 17 interview. “He practically lives off this thing.”

The detective who checked the F-250 didn’t seem to care and was just doing his job, according to Rhett Beard, Kameron’s roommate, told County 17 on May 25.

Beard, along with Tyrel and Kameron’s sister-in-law, Savannah Martinson, have expressed their frustration at what they consider to be a slow investigation and have decided to look into the matter themselves.

“The police, they acted like they don’t care, that’s why we’re doing this,” Savanna said May 25, adding that an owner of one of the other stolen pickups urged them to investigate themselves if they really wanted to find out who was responsible.

On Tuesday, their investigation revealed surveillance footage from the Kum & Go on Highway 14-16 and Foothills Boulevard that shows Kameron’s truck turning south, followed by one of the other stolen pickups.

Surveillance footage, according to the group, shows there are at least two suspects responsible for the thefts. They further deduced that it must be multiple suspects because Kameron’s van, a loud and large vehicle, was stolen outside his residence while he and Beard were at home with the windows open.

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They must have pushed it back before they started it, Beard speculated, or we would have heard them take it.

The group planned to gather more surveillance footage later in the day that could help them identify who stole the vans.

On May 26, Tyrel messaged County 17 to report that their efforts had uncovered information that could identify the suspect vehicle, though he did not specify what that information was at press time.

But regardless of whether the group is able to reveal possible suspects in the case, their actions could have adverse effects on the police investigation, according to Alger, who expressed frustration and confusion at news that the group was not satisfied with the police. response and had taken it upon themselves to look into the matter.

The detective assigned to the case, from the time he received the call until the time he returned home, walked through Gillette pulling surveillance footage and processing evidence, Alger said, adding that a low priority case would not have elicited the same investigative response. that this one did.

The GPD has strong evidence and, given the fluidity of the case, it makes more sense to move quickly with what we have, Alger said.

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