PENDLETON - A police officer on routine patrol early Wednesday morning apprehended two suspected Boise area car thieves.
According to Police Chief Stuart Roberts, Cpl. Rowan Hayes was driving by the Super 8 Motel on Southeast Nye Avenue when he noticed two people shining a flashlight around vehicles in a parking lot at around 3:40 a.m.
Hayes stopped them and ran their names through dispatch to see if they had any driving suspensions or outstanding warrants in Oregon. Both came up clean, so Hayes went on his way.
Several hours later Hayes received a call from a Garden City, Idaho, detective who said suspected car thieves could be coming through the area. The names of the suspects matched the men Hayes had previously talked to at the motel.
Hayes then went back to Super 8 and arrested William Stirm, 29, and his fiance, Rebecca Lee Fiske, 19, on outstanding Idaho warrants for grand theft auto. The couple is wanted in connection with at least eight auto thefts.
They also face charges in Umatilla County for motor vehicle theft, possession of stolen property and theft, Roberts said, noting a stolen local license plate was found on the stolen vehicle, a dark green 1997 Honda Accord.
Roberts said the pair had been on a car-theft spree for several months at numerous car dealerships in Garden City, about 2.5 miles west of Boise.
"Their MO was that they'd take a car out for a test drive, make a copy of the key, then return the car and go back and steal it later," Roberts said.
But the car recovered from the Super 8 had not been stolen from a dealership.
Stirm told Roberts that he and Fiske had dumped the stolen cars, Roberts said, adding: "We suspect they're trying to sell them ... it was obvious. He was popping VIN (vehicle identification numbers) numbers."
A third person was found hiding behind a garbage bin in the motel's parking lot, but Roberts said he was a transient the couple had picked up at a bar Tuesday night. He was questioned and later released.
That man's name was not released.
The couple had pretended to be newlyweds when they drove to the motel, putting a "Just Married" sign on the back of the car and a Bible on the front seat, Roberts said.
"It's quite comical," he said.
Roberts said managers and staff at the Super 8 Motel were helpful during the investigation. Police executed a search warrant Wednesday afternoon at the motel, searching the couple's room for evidence.
During the search, officers recovered multiple stolen identifications, stolen checks, about 1/4 to 1/2 gram of what they believe to be crystal methamphetamine, paperwork from other stolen vehicles from the Boise area and incriminating letters of admission of their crimes, Hayes said.
"This is a case of old-fashioned, basic police work," Lt. Mark Swanson said of the arrest. "Officer Hayes was just out doing his job, doing field interviews and that turned into something more later on."
While Stirm and Fiske will be charged for crimes by the Umatilla County District Attorney's Office, they will likely be extradited to Ada County, Idaho, for prosecution. For now, they remain in the Umatilla County Jail.
Hayes said the two most likely will not be released on bail because of the nature of the crimes.
He also noted that Stirm violated his parole, "so he's not going anywhere."