Prolific car thief who stole country singer's tour bus accused of car thefts in Mason Co.
BELFAIR, Wash. -- A prolific car thief from Tennessee, who's nicknamed "Little Houdini", is now accused of similar crimes in Mason County, and detectives believe the man might have stolen a van from a school district.
Lt. Jason Dracobly of the Mason County Sheriff's Office said Christopher Gay, 40, is a person of interest in the auto theft case at the North Mason School District.
When workers showed up at the bus garage on Friday morning they discovered the break-in. Someone smashed a window, grabbed a bunch of keys from a board in the office, then took off in a van.
"Looks like they saw the keys and just grabbed a whole bunch of keys and went out looking for a vehicle to use," said Lt. Dracobly.
The stolen vehicle was a brand new Dodge Caravan with only 200 miles and a full tank of gas. Even more brazen, the van is marked -- on both sides -- with the school district's logo.
Lt. Dracobly said theft of marked vehicles is not that unusual.
"How many cars do you drive by that have the emblems on it and you don't think twice about them being stolen?" he said.
Gay is a prolific car thief from Tennessee. In 2007, Gay made headlines after he escaped custody and stole the tour bus of country music singer Crystal Gayle.
"It's just a consistent history of vehicle thefts, high-end vehicle thefts," said Lt. Dracobly.
Deputies believe Gay is connected to more cases in Mason County. On Thursday, deputies found a stolen truck and RV at the Allyn View Motor Home Park after getting a tip. The truck, which also has decals on it, was stolen in Tennessee and the RV from Florida.
A photo of the truck was posted on Facebook after it was caught on camera stealing a trailer from Cogent Construction in Shelton. A worker at Cogent Construction said on Friday the trailer still has not been recovered.
When deputies arrived the mobile home park, a woman identified as Tarie Bennett was inside the RV but Gay was not there. Bennett was arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle and possession of stolen property.
During her first appearance in Mason County Court on Friday, Bennett's attorney said Bennett has children who live in Tacoma and Auburn but she and Gay have no other ties to Washington.
Detectives believe the pair has been traveling across the country stealing high-end vehicles along the way.
The judge set Bennett's bail at $15,000.
The 2017 Dodge Caravan stolen from the North Mason School District has Washington license plate B4887C.
If you see the van or have information about Christopher Gay's whereabouts call 911.