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Metropolitan police searched for about 12 hours Friday before recovering an unmarked squad car that had been stolen from in front of an officer's home.
Robbery Detective William J. Cincebox left the vehicle unlocked with the key inside, according to a police report, but Cincebox later told supervisors he had locked the vehicle, said Lt. Jeff Duhamell, an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department spokesman.
Cincebox, who was appointed to the Marion County Sheriff's Department in 1998, reported the black 2004 Dodge Intrepid missing from in front of his Beech Grove home at 4:09 a.m. Friday.
Police recovered the vehicle in another driveway not far from the officer's home about 4 p.m., Duhamell said. A witness said the car had been parked there since about 5 a.m.
"It's very possible the individuals who stole the car did not even know it was a police car at the time," Duhamell said.
The officer's protective vest, Taser, checkbook and passport were inside the car when it was recovered, Duhamell said.
"The only thing missing at this time is a portable red-blue police light and a tape recorder," Duhamell said. "The key was found in the ignition. . . . The ignition column had been tampered with (and) the rubber boot that protects the gear shift was torn off."
Duhamell said it is rare for a police car to be stolen. Police do not have a suspect.
Cincebox, Duhamell said, is disputing the version of events laid out in the police report written by officer Greg Bowles.
Bowles reported that Cincebox told him the vehicle was unlocked with the key inside. Cincebox said he locked the door, Duhamell said, but he admitted leaving a spare car key on a ring with other keys on the console.
Supervisors are investigating the incident and will determine what punishment, if any, Cincebox would face.
Officers who fail to properly secure their department-issued gear typically face discipline ranging from a verbal reprimand to a suspension.
Cincebox has never been suspended in his 10 years with the department. Records show he received a letter of caution in 2006 after he was involved in what supervisors determined was a preventable accident.
Last year, he received a thank-you letter from Sheriff Frank Anderson for his work with Anderson's Stop and Think program geared toward helping youths stay out of trouble.
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