Stolen Car

Be on the lookout for a Subaru

Barbara Lawlor

Gilpin County




A couple of months ago, Lance Smeltekop and Maureen Steele finally found the perfect car for them, a recently married couple. They knew they wanted a Subaru station wagon, a vehicle known for its prowess and dependability in the mountains. They knew they wanted it good in snow, gently used, previously owned, all-wheel drive in their price range.


Then Bingo, there it was at Blue Spruce Auto in Boulder. A 1997, navy blue, grey interior with hot pink seat covers, clean, with only 90,000 miles on it. Score! Also, the proverbial little old couple had been its only owners so it was nurtured and well taken care of.


It was as good as it seemed, until Sunday morning, Dec. 4, when it was gone. Smeltekop went to walk the dog at 8 a.m. and there was a large, Subaru-shaped empty space in his driveway on South Beaver Creek. At first he had a feeling of complete confusion, and when the realization that his car has been stolen sinks in, he felt a deep sense of violation.


The couple immediately called the Gilpin County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the theft. Smeltekop said footprints and tire tracks in the area were not theirs and could possibly be involved in the crime.


They miss their Subaru, but it was insured. What they are most heartsick about are the personal items that were in the car. Like many mountain residents, the Subaru was unlocked. Unlike an ordinary time of the year, the Subaru was filled with bags of gifts from a mall shopping spree. There were gifts for the family. Smeltekop and Steele had had dinner with friends and came home tired, saying they would unload the car in the morning. Smeltekop said the gifts can be replaced.


It was the personal items that hurt. Steele had her prescription eyeglasses in the vehicle; she had books loaned to her, perhaps not replaceable. She can’t see well without her glasses and won’t be able to replace them until January. A necklace, her identification, keys, all gone, all somewhere else being driven around, used.


Smeltekop said their four boys, aged 18, 16, 14 and 12 are bummed. “It is sad. Lots of one’s life is in their car. We can replace the gifts that were stolen but it will still not be a Merry Christmas, just the feeling of someone having our personal things and not caring about them. This is not why we moved to the mountains.”


The Sheriff’s Department has told the family that because the Subaru was parked maybe 50 feet from the road, it could have been a crime of opportunity, someone looking for something to sell to buy drugs.


Smeltekop, Steele and the authorities are asking that anyone with information contact the Gilpin County Sheriff’s Office. The case is still under investigation and looking for leads to suspects.