Hot wheels recovered

JEROME A. POLLOS/Press Tom Fisher explains the timeline from when his 2003 Cadillac Escalade was stolen Saturday and recovered Monday in Coeur d'Alene.

COEUR d'ALENE - Unique can be good.

It can make something hard to hide in a crowd, for example, which can be a swell thing if your unique-looking truck - the one with red flames on its hood - is swiped and you're trying to track it down.

Because it can be easier to spot a 2003 Cadillac truck on huge, chrome wheels - with a fire-painted hood and vanity plates driving down the street - than, say, another Toyota Camry.

"I thought they would find it the first day or that it was gone forever," said Tom Fisher, Century 21 real estate agent and self-described "car guy" whose $25,000 Cadillac matching the above description was stolen from his shop Saturday afternoon. "Either, or."

Fisher figured the crook would skip town after lifting such an obvious car.

Apparently, that wasn't the case.

The truck was spotted dozens of times driving around mostly east Coeur d'Alene over the weekend, before Fisher recovered it Monday.

It's as though the thief used the rig for his or her own commute - not far from 14th Street and Front Avenue spot where it was swiped.

"Talk about world's dumbest criminals," Fisher said, referring to the cable television show by the same name that highlights, well, criminals' less-than-perfect attempts at crime.

Fisher had left the keys on the floor of the car around 4:30 p.m. Saturday when he ran upstairs to his shop for lunch. When he came back outside around 45 minutes later, according to a police report, the truck he'd owned for nine years was gone.

Fisher assumed the crook with "the most recognizable truck, probably, in Kootenai County" had hit the road. Discouraged, he called police, and posted about the theft on Facebook.

That's when the communication tree started. People chimed in all weekend saying they had seen the rig around town.

It was at 18th and Wallace Avenue, a friend reported. Now it was on Coeur d'Alene Lake Drive, another said, darn near hitting 100 miles per hour and catching air on a jump.

"If anyone was gonna go 100 and go airborne, it should have been me," Fisher said.

Still, it was refreshing to know the car was still around. And on Monday, Fisher spotted the truck parked outside a restaurant on 18th Street and Sherman Avenue - only a few blocks away from where it had been lifted.

Fisher said he saw a "skinny, tall" guy standing around the truck. When he approached him, the man took off running. So Fisher pulled out his spare keys, hopped in the car and chased down the suspect, who police were able to apprehend as the man tried to hide in a neighborhood yard.

Police Sgt. Christie Wood said Wednesday the department hasn't arrested a suspect, and believes the man they cornered Monday rode in the vehicle, but didn't steal it. She said police think they'll use that suspect to find the original thief.

Fisher picked up the truck from a service shop on Wednesday, and said it's running well. The crook did try and peel away the flames on the hood, which Fisher will have to fix, because, well, it can be easier if you don't blend in.

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