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IYC: Stolen car turns up secret stash

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Keith’s car was swiped right from under his nose.

He said, “I was stunned.”

Police later recovered it during a routine traffic stop and say they found Robert Sanders behind the wheel.

Officers hauled him away, then called Keith to come reclaim his hot wheels.

“They go through the car,” OKC PD Captain Dexter Nelson said. “The officer asks if you find something that’s not yours’, let me know. We can either take it and book it in, or we dispose of it some type of way.”

Keith claims he found plenty that wasn’t his, including a couple of jewelry boxes and a pair of bolt cutters.

“[That] is what they were using,” Keith said. “They were using that car to steal things.”

Bolt cutters in tow, Keith and his daughter-in-law drove the car home.

All the while they were oblivious to what was still stashed away inside the glove box, a heap of stolen personal documents.

They discovered birth certificates, someone’s banking information and a check with an Arkansas address on it, set out in the mail to pay a bill.

We handed over the evidence to police, then contacted Sharon Bryant about her stolen check.

Bryant runs a pawn shop in Russellville, Arkansas and has no idea how Robert Sanders ended up with it hundreds of miles away.   

“I have no recollection of him in any way, shape or form,” Bryant said. “I’ve even looked to see if he’s been a customer of mine and he’s not in my computer either.”

We wanted to know why police didn’t zero in on the stolen documents during that initial traffic stop. 

Capt. Nelson said, “Just seeing documents and various names might not necessarily alert that officer to anything if he doesn’t know something else in particular with that vehicle.”

In this instance all the officer knew was that the car was hot.

While it was recovered in Oklahoma City, Norman police are actually handling the case, since it was stolen from Keith’s Norman home.

Keith’s main beef isn’t with police, but rather our legal system.  

“What the hell is that guy doing out on the street again,” Keith asked. “Obviously he’s a habitual criminal.”

Sanders is no saint.

He has prior convictions for burglary, drug possession and breaking and entering.   

Cleveland County District Attorney, Greg Mashburn, said, “Obviously he’s not someone that probation has worked or treatment has worked, so the only option is to put him behind a wall to prevent him from committing future crimes.” 

Here’s what prosecutors like Mashburn are up against.

A state law aimed at reducing prison overcrowding and spending, lets non-violent inmates, with a sentence of fewer than five years, like Sanders, qualify for early release after serving just 90 days behind bars.

“If you think these offenders don’t know that then you’re crazy. Because these offenders know what [the Department of Corrections is] doing,” Mashburn said. “They know how to work the system and they know, ‘oh man, if I get five or less I can be out in 90 days’.”

Meanwhile, Keith is still reeling from the emotional toll the situation’s taken on him.

He’d like to give Sanders a piece of his mind and knuckle.

“I’d let him know just what in the hell was really going on the world,” Keith said. “To the point I’d wish he’d try to make a move at me. Then I’d punch him out.”

On top of the new burglary charges, Sanders was already on probation for a previous burglary conviction.

He’ll likely be spending Christmas behind bars in the Cleveland County jail awaiting a hearing. We’ll keep you posted on his case.