Casper Man Charged With Stealing $240,000 Worth of Vehicles
A Casper man allegedly stole three vehicles worth $240,000, but how that happened -- with one of them found in Riverton -- remains unclear because his explanations weren't either.
Austin Ideen, 24, was charged Friday with three counts of felony theft, possession of a controlled substance, prohibited possession of a firearm, use of a firearm while committing a felony, and interference with a peace officer.
We're talking some serious felony theft.
The vehicles are a 2019 black Dodge Durango GT valued at $50,000; a 2018 red Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT valued at $100,000 (with a 6.4 liter V8 with 475 horsepower); and a 2018 black Dodge Challenger Hellcat valued at $90,000 (with a supercharged 6.2 liter Hemi V8 punching 707 horsepower), according to a Casper Police affidavit filed with the Natrona County Circuit Court.
The case began at 3:53 p.m. Friday when a Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper tried to stop the Durango on Interstate 25 when it took a Casper exit, according to the affidavit.
Fourteen minutes later, the general manager for Fremont Motors contacted police dispatch about the dealership missing the Durango, Jeep and Hellcat. Fremont Motors had the three vehicles at a sales event at the Casper Events Center from Dec. 22 when they were noticed missing on Dec. 26. The manager told police vehicles sometimes are unaccounted for after such events because they are not placed correctly back in the lot.
At 5:20 p.m., the manager activated the GPS on the Durango, which was located at an apartment complex at 600 E. M St., where five officers set up a perimeter. The Jeep soon pulled up next to the Durango.
Officers identified themselves to Ideen and began chasing him. One officer tackled Ideen right before both crashed through the ice and into the North Platte River. Ideen continued to fight with that officer, the other officers pulled them out and took Ideen into custody. Ideen had a gold-painted pistol with an obliterated serial number in his front pants pocket.
Ideen and the officer were treated for cold water exposure, then taken in separate ambulances to the Wyoming Medical Center.
Meanwhile, the Fremont Motors general manager activated the GPS in the Hellcat and located it in Riverton.
At 10:20 p.m., Ideen was released from the hospital and taken to the police station for an interview.
It got real incoherent after that.
Ideen said a friend, whose name he misidentified, called him about the chase in the Durango, parking it in north Casper, and told him to clean it, swap license plates, and go to an apartment complex in south Casper to get the Jeep, drive it to north Casper, and drive the Durango to the apartment complex.
Ideen said he found a pistol under the seat of the Durango, and "freaked out" because he wasn't supposed to have guns after a violent gun charge in 2012, according to the affidavit.
After other explanations about his friend, how Ideen communicated with him via his or his girlfriend's cell phone, how he had the key fob to the Hellcat in Riverton, and how he didn't steal the cars -- the police officer told him he was lying.
"Ideen stated he was terrified of what his charges would be and was concerned he would get prison time," according to the affidavit.
Ideen's girlfriend told police that he had the Durango and the pistol for about three days, and that both were intravenous drug users.
A subsequent search of the apartment of Ideen and his girlfriend in the 2300 block of East 18th Street, police found the gold paint used to paint the pistol, methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia.
The affidavit added Ideen had a no-bond warrant for his arrest out of Converse County, and he was arrested on that warrant.