Lakewood police return 20 stolen cars to owners after undercover sting

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by ELISA HAHN / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @ElisaHahnK5

KING5.com

Posted on March 6, 2013 at 6:43 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 6 at 6:49 PM

The owners of 20 stolen cars finally got a chance to get them back.

Police brought the cars to the Tacoma Dome for the owners to check out and pick up. It was part of "Operation Shiny Penny," an undercover sting where police used a fake storefront to buy stolen goods.

Eighteen-year-old Mariah Morris was ecstatic to see her Acura Integra. She said her "entire life" was in her car.

"I have everything. I have clothes. I have receipts. I have CDs since I was 16," she said. "I have pictures. So it's really nice to get it all back."

Thieves had gone to work on some of the cars. One or two were in bad shape.

"I'm surprised it started," said Nick Morrow. His red Honda had a center console and side panels missing. "Looks to be half missing, possibly."

He said even if he has to turn around the sell the car, at least it "puts a few dollars in his pocket."

About half the cars today were owned by insurance companies. They were reported stolen months ago.

Detectives said they could not return the cars right away, fearing it would blow the operation.

Police arrested 21 suspects. The money used to buy the stolen goods was provided by a grant from Washington Auto Theft Prevention Authority.

Police from seven agencies in Pierce County took part in the sting.

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