Travis Tucker has seen some interesting things under peoples' dashboards: glass from a run-in with a moose, some marijuana, but when he unearthed a hide-a-key box from under the brake pedal of a client's car with a crystal-like substance inside, he knew something wasn't right.
"I thought it was funny they had put one inside the car and not outside," said the owner of Arctic Auto Starts. "I pulled it down and opened it and dumped it out. That's when we proceeded to call the Kenai P.D."
The substance turned out to be crystal methamphetamine, and according to Kenai Police Lt. Kim Wannamaker, it could have been concealed inside that hide-a-key box for as long as a year.
Wannamaker said the couple who brought the car to Arctic Auto Starts had the car for about a year, purchasing it as a used car in Anchorage in February 2007. The used car lot acquired it from a rental car agency.
"It was packaged and repackaged and tucked away," Wannamaker said.
Police interviewed the owners of the car and were able to determine they had no knowledge of the drug's presence.
"We're not going to be charging any of those people with a drug crime. We don't believe the people we talked to had anything to do with it being there," he said.
Kenai Police Chief Chuck Kopp said the couple's vehicle was a 2005 Toyota Highlander and was purchased from Affordable Used Cars in Anchorage. The used car lot acquired the car from Avis Rental Cars in Anchorage.
"There's a limitless possibility of suspects," he said.
Tucker said he wasn't exactly sure it was crystal meth he discovered under the car's dashboard, but he had seen enough TV spots about it where he used to live in Portland, Ore., to know to turn over what he found to the police.
"I definitely wanted to turn it in," he said, adding the couple who brought it in was an elderly couple. "I pulled it out, set it on the counter and we called the cops right away, because I was like I want to get this stuff out of here right away. I'm glad to get it out of the community and into the right hands to properly dispose of it."
Wannamaker said he wanted to credit the business owner for paying attention to the media's public education warnings, recognizing that the substance he found was probably drugs and notifying police. He said the drugs are locked in as evidence and will be destroyed. Kenai Police considers the case closed.
Jessica Cejnar can be reached at email@example.com.
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