Haines Borough Police are investigating a joyride gone awry this week, the latest in a series of vehicle riflings and thefts that started a month ago.

In the past two weeks, three people have reported their vehicles stolen from outside their residences. All of the vehicles have been recovered, though one taken early Saturday morning was totaled and left near 6 Mile Haines Highway.

The thefts follow a rash of car riflings, where car doors, center consoles and glove boxes were left open. It’s not clear if theft occurred during the riflings. Some vehicle owners reported iPods and firearms missing.

Tower Road resident Julie Vance called police Saturday morning to report her 2004 Honda Pilot had been stolen overnight. Soon after calling police, a friend texted Vance asking if she had rolled her car.

Vance hadn’t, but someone else apparently had. The car was discovered totaled after hitting a rock wall near 8 Mile and being left at 6 Mile.

Another vehicle was stolen the same night, from a parking lot near the intersection of Mud Bay Road and 0 Mile Haines Highway. The owner later found the car on Major Road.  

On Nov. 9, a vehicle was taken from Deishu Drive and abandoned at 4 Mile Haines Highway near the airport.

All of the stolen vehicles had keys in them, according to police.

Police chief Bill Musser issued a comment via Facebook Sunday saying police had identified “teenage suspects,” but wouldn’t say how many people police think were involved.

“HBPD has been working on further developing information regarding the teenage suspects in these ongoing incidents of criminal mischief, which have now escalated to felony theft and criminal mischief. The HBPD has suspect information and new evidence in these latest crimes,” Musser said.

Around 3 a.m. Saturday, police responded to a call from a Fort Seward resident who reported seeing two people dressed in black walking down Soap Suds Alley with a duffel bag, trying to get into vehicles.

An officer who responded was unable to locate the pair.

Vance said when she first noticed her car missing Saturday morning, theft didn’t occur to her. “I went out to go to my car and I was like, ‘Where’s my car? I didn’t go out last night. I didn’t leave it uptown.’ I could not figure it out. It was the strangest thing.”

After the friend texted her about her smashed car at 8 Mile, she caught a ride there and assessed the damage. The front bumper was gone, several windows were shattered, and the rear left side of the car was destroyed.

The rooftop carrier, which had held her paddleboard and some other sporting equipment, was shattered. “That blew apart when (the vehicle) hit the cliff wall,” she said.

Highway resident Phil Wilde found the paddleboard on the road and returned it to Vance after seeing her message on the community website.

The perpetrators also stole nearly $100 in cash from the vehicle, Vance said.

Vance said she felt “violated” by the ordeal. “Here I am in Haines, and one of the reasons we all choose to live here is because we feel this relative safety and not having to worry about the pressures and the societal issues that are in the Lower 48,” she said.

The thieves left behind some evidence of their late-night escapade, including a device charger that plugs into a cigarette lighter and a blue cassette tape adapter that allows a user to play music over the vehicle’s stereo system using an iPod or other MP3 device.

Vance said she isn’t convinced police will be able to solve the case.

“No, I’m not confident about it, but I would like to be,” she said. “When is the last time the Haines Police solved a crime?”

The people responsible for the recent rash of vehicle thefts, and those responsible for three dozen car break-ins last summer, should all be held accountable, Vance said.

“I just hope they can catch them. I hope they can step up to the plate and get these guys,” she said.

Resident Henry Strong said he even heard who he believes stole his car near his home on Deishu Drive.

Strong was sitting in his La-Z-Boy chair in his home around 4 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 9, when he heard voices outside the window. Strong said he thought it was just two people taking an early morning walk until he heard his 2009 Subaru Legacy start up and drive away.

“I was more confused than anything. I was like, ‘What the heck?’” Strong said.

Strong said the two voices sounded like a man and a woman. “They sounded like two younger people to me,” he said.

At about 10 minutes past 5 a.m., police called and said they found the vehicle abandoned along the guardrail at 4 Mile.Since recovering the car, Strong said he tries to keep his keys with him now instead of leaving them in the vehicle.

“I’ve had to go out there and take the keys out lately, because it’s such a habit,” Strong said.

Police started advising residents to lock their cars in October.