Car Wash Thieves Cleaning Up In Small Towns

Small town businesses northwest of Omaha are getting hit by thieves in the early morning hours and they keep coming back.

A steamy car wash in Hooper, Nebraska was used as cover by thieves trying to stay out of hot water. “Frustrating, this is the fourth time,” said car wash owner Larry Ruwe. “It’s getting expensive.”

Car wash owners in Hooper and Scribner invested in high-end camera systems, catching a thief breaking into their coin drops. “They've been here before and they're going to keep coming back so we got to stop ‘em,” said car wash owner Brad Schlecht.

The thief hit early last Monday morning after the county fair in Scribner, knowing the coin box would be full and an officer not around. “The hours that they're breaking in we don't have the manpower to have 24/7 law enforcement,” said Scribner Police Chief Jake Brainard.

The iron bar-toting thief made off with a tray full of coins. The thief has cleaned out this car wash five times in the last six months. The owner estimates he has taken nearly $1,000 in quarters.

A few minutes down the road, the thief had accomplices. One sprayed while a woman stayed in the pickup. “Vehicle description we got from your video surveillance system and pictures of all three suspects, I'm hoping someone will recognize this,” said Hooper Police Chief Matt Schott.

Thanks to a large investment by two small town business owners, police have good video of the thief, an accomplice and a ride-along. “We have cameras throughout the car wash,” said Ruwe.

“We are tired of giving them quarters,” said Schlecht. “They can find their own ATM somewhere else.”

A reward is being offered so anyone who can identify the suspects should call Scribner police at 402-664-3000.

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