OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – Imagine the anxiety of finding out your nearly new car has been stolen, but then the relief of a call from the police that it’s been found nearly undamaged.
But instead of gratitude, an Omaha car theft victim feels frustration. Somewhere behind the locked gates of the city impound is a 2022 Kia that belongs to car theft victim Sean Yakopec who can’t see or touch it.
“Like my car is in jail and I feel like I didn’t do anything wrong to her,” Yakopec said.
Impound manager Reggie Johnson explains to car theft victim why his Sportage can’t be freed.
“This is a homicide and auto theft case for the Omaha Police Department,” Johnson said.
A murder two weeks ago at 52nd and Curtis is unsolved, but detectives must believe a stolen Kia Sportage is involved because Sean can’t get his back.
“They want to use it as evidence so I don’t understand why they want to go ahead and keep the car when they can just take pictures of the car and take fingerprints and do whatever they need to and give me back the car,” Yakopec said.
Omaha police cannot release details of a murder investigation.
“I was sentenced to homicides for seven years,” said officer Chris Gordon.
Officer Chris Gordon says a recovered car should be held as evidence in a murder case often until trial.
“Losing a homicide due to a technicality, such as turning over evidence or property to its rightful owner, could be paramount to the outcome of a homicide investigation. Some defense attorneys will ask to view the vehicle to physically prove that it is the vehicle used in the matter under investigation,” Gordon said.
With a broken window and a hacked ignition, all Sean has from his 2022 Kia are the keys. He would therefore like to recover sunglasses and some personal items from the recovered stolen car.
“They have to do a forensic investigation prints all of this. If you go back and touch that car you compromised, her,” Johnson said.
Omaha police say a recovered stolen vehicle possibly used in a homicide is not completely untouchable.
“It is possible to free these small objects, but the vehicle must remain with us,” Gordon said.
But how long without arrests and a trial that is nowhere in sight?
“I’ve put my savings in this car and I have nothing to show for now,” Yakopec said.
Yet Sean’s car payments are still due.
While his 2022 Kia with just 10,000 miles is on hold and sits behind the locked impound fence, Sean says that although he was told there was minimal damage, he spoke to his company about vehicle totalization insurance.
In about two weeks, insurance payments for a rental car could end, but Sean says his patience is already exhausted when he gets out of his Kia.
“It’s easier for my mental health to be done with the car,” Yakopec said.
Sean Yakopec feels he is the victim of two crimes as his stolen car is held as evidence for an investigation into an unsolved homicide.
The shooting death of 19-year-old Alon Reed is under active investigation. Any tips leading to the arrest of a homicide suspect can earn up to $2,500 in rewards via Crime Stoppers.
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