When Rick Hundley and his wife woke up on July 21 and discovered that their Cabriolet convertible had been replaced in the driveway of their Bethany Lakes home by two bicycles, they were pretty sure it wasn’t a guerilla statement on “green” transportation. They reported the theft to the police.
When police arrived at their home — which is, notably, inside a gated community — they said the two abandoned bicycles the car thieves had apparently used to get to the home had been stolen, too.
The thieves had stolen most of the contents of Hundley’s car, too, including his designer prescription sunglasses. They’d even rifled through his wife’s mini-van and stolen her designer sunglasses, purchased only two days prior. But they’d left behind the child safety seat that had been in the stolen car, tucked safely into the back of Hundley’s truck.
Hundley thought it was odd that police didn’t fingerprint the car seat, since it seemed to be a prime spot for evidence to have been left.
“Maybe the state police thought it was an isolated case at the time,” he said early last week, after reaching out to the Coastal Point to spread word about what he now believes was a larger wave of crime. “Maybe they didn’t put the connection together that it was a huge crime ring.”
A week later, Hundley’s wife found out from Delaware State Police that their car had been recovered. The police didn’t specify the car’s condition, which was why it was a surprise when they showed up to claim their stolen property that the car had been burned.
“It had been found in New Castle city, by the river, and it was a melting pile of metal,” Hundley said.
The resulting mess was towed to the state police impound lot before being released to Hundley’s insurance company for claims work.
Nearly two weeks ago, the Hundleys found out that there had been an arrest in their case.
“The police contacted us and said there was lots and lots and lots of stolen property. They asked if everything missing was listed on the police report. ‘There’s lots more stuff here,’” Hundley recalled the officer saying.
That list included at least six GPS units, one of which was Hundley’s missing aircraft-type model. It also included Hundley’s Craftsman tools. While Hundley was still hoping to find his and his wife’s sunglasses, as well as the spare keys to his boat, he said he was relieved to hear that the items that had been located clearly associated the arrested suspects with his car.
His wife, however, had a different focus: “I don’t care about the car. I want my sunglasses back!” he said she told him.
Hundley said he began to connect his theft with others in the area after a neighbor who also owns property in Murray’s Estates found a posting on that community’s online message board that noted other thefts there, as well as two vehicles reportedly stolen from the Salt Pond community.
Two 20-year-old men, from Georgetown and Millsboro, have been arrested in the case, with 56 charges filed against each from crimes in Ocean View alone. Delaware State Police and other local police departments are expected to add to those charges and were anticipating additional arrests Thursday morning.