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Pickup stolen from Mineral Avenue

| June 30, 2006 12:00 AM

By GWEN ALBERS Western News Reporter

Terry Andreessen believes whoever stole his $43,000 pickup from his downtown dealership next to Libby Police Department had it planned.

The theft allegedly occurred during Libby's Logger Days parade as hundreds lined Mineral Avenue.

Less than 24 hours later, the owner of Beck's Montana Cafe on U.S. Highway 2 west found the undamaged 2006, Ford F-150 Super Crew. The thief put 400 miles on it.

Andreessen, owner of Timberline Auto Center Inc. at 617 Mineral Ave. for 22 years, also believes the rig may have been used to transport drugs.

"Whoever did it, knew what they were doing," he said. "I think whoever took it, needed it strictly for transportation. With 400 miles, they could've gone to Missoula or Spokane. From what I know, I think that's what a person in that profession would do."

Libby Police Chief Clay Coker said Tuesday they have no suspects. Coker also said there's no evidence that indicates the truck was used to transport drugs.

"It could've been used for joy riding," he said.

Andreessen at 8 a.m. Saturday drove the truck to the dealership to prepare four vehicles for the parade. He parked the truck between his dealership and the police department, and left the keys in it.

At about 1:45 p.m., he planned to head to the Kambel Scrambel golf tournament at Cabinet View Country Club. When Andreessen didn't find the truck, he assumed he parked it elsewhere.

"I walked around in a two-block radius before walking to Logger Days to find an officer," he said.

A Sunday morning conversation between Star Phillips, a cook at Beck's, and restaurant owner, Barb Monheiser, led police to the truck.

"I worked for security for Logger Days and heard from the cops about a truck being stolen," Phillips said. "I told Barb, the owner, about the truck being stolen in broad daylight."

Monheiser then told Phillips she'd seen a truck with dealer license plates in the restaurant parking lot and called police.

"I think they had to bring it back to get back to Libby," Andreessen said.

The thief allegedly removed the batteries from Andreessen's cell phone in hopes of not being traced.

The truck could be tested for fingerprints, but that doesn't always work, Coker said.

"We don't have many vehicle thefts here annually," he said. "A lot of times when we do, it's because the keys were left in the vehicle."

Parade chairperson Pam Peppenger was appalled with the theft.

"I was just absolutely devastated," Peppenger said. "They (Timberline) were so wonderful to let use (their vehicles for the parade). We certainly didn't expect anything like this to happen."