Arrest Made In Custom Vehicle Theft From Kids Cancer Charity

By Jeffrey N. Ross, Motorious

Chattanooga police are still looking for one more suspect.

Chattanooga Police have made an arrest in connection with the theft of the 2018 Ford Explorer Sport and 2018 Jeep JK Wrangler Unlimited that were stolen from the Austin Hatcher Foundation in the early morning of Sunday, October 20th. David Charles Chatman, 53, has been charged with two counts of theft of property over $10,000, two counts of burglary, two counts of vandalism/malicious mischief and a count of theft of property over $1,000, and there is still one more suspect at large.

It sounds like the vehicles were in the process of being stripped, but neither has been recovered yet. The Foundation also gave an update about the vehicles stating that both SUVs are insured but only to cover their base cost; it doesn't cover the upgraded parts or the time and energy that these families put into both vehicles.

On October 21st, the charity announced on Facebook that the two SUVs had been stolen from its Education Advancement Center's secured warehouse by thieves who had snuck under the fence, broke into the warehouse and eventually located the keys to steal the SUVs. The Explorer was apparently used to ram through a locked gate causing significant damage including the roof carrier and the factory roof rails were torn from the vehicle. Both SUVs are extremely unique in terms of body modifications and paint jobs, and they were going to be auctioned off by Leake Auto Auction in Scottsdale in January 2020.

Last year, the foundation partnered with aftermarket Jeep parts supplier Rugged Ridge to create a unique JK Wrangler Hurst Jeepster Commando tribute, which raised more than $225,000 for the charity through Leake Auto Auction. It first crossed the auction block in November 2018 in Dallas where it raised over $150,000 both through bids and various charitable donations, and then back in June of this year, it was auctioned off again in Tulsa raising another $75,000. There's no doubt the custom Explorer and Wrangler would have raised similar money as the Hurst Jeepster Commando tribute.

On top of the vehicle theft, the organization's trailer was destroyed, a fence was destroyed and some vehicle parts were damaged. The SUVs were designed and built by pediatric cancer patients and their families as part of the foundation's therapy and recovery program.

If you see either vehicle (or any of the unique parts listed for sale online) or if you have any information as to the theft of these vehicles, please call the Chattanooga Police Department immediately at (423) 698-2525.


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Automotive Magazine: Arrest Made In Custom Vehicle Theft From Kids Cancer Charity
Arrest Made In Custom Vehicle Theft From Kids Cancer Charity
Automotive Magazine
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