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Indiana Mayoral Candidate Steals Unit Off Lot

Indiana Mayoral Candidate Steals Unit Off Lot

SOUTH BEND — Will Smith, a Democratic candidate for South Bend mayor, appears to be a suspect in the theft of a repossessed SUV from Starke County.

A black Chevrolet Suburban was reported stolen from an impound lot in Starke County on Feb. 13, according to South Bend police spokesman Ken Garcia.

Two days later, a South Bend police officer noticed a Suburban matching that description in the driveway of a home in the 700 block of North Whitehall Avenue.

Garcia said a person named Will Smith is “listed as a suspect” in the alleged theft and is sought by police. Garcia said he did not know if that person is the mayoral candidate.

Campaign filing records, however, show that mayoral candidate Will Smith lives in the 700 block of North Whitehall Avenue, the same block where the car was found.

“The officer ran the license plate, and it turned out not to belong to that vehicle, but a different one,” Garcia said Thursday.

The car was impounded by police on Feb. 15. According to Garcia, nobody was home at the time police and a tow truck impounded the vehicle.

The former owner of the car was Smith, prior to its repossession by his bank, Garcia said.

When reached by phone Thursday, Smith refused to comment and hung up.

Detective Sgt. Don Ferguson, with the Starke County Sheriff’s Department, said an investigation is ongoing.

“I’m waiting on a few pieces on information from outside agencies,” Ferguson said. “Then I’ll forward my report to the Starke County Prosecutor’s office and they can make a decision on filing any charges.”

Ferguson wouldn’t say if Smith is a suspect in the case but did say he is a “person of interest at this point.”

Smith, 32, is one of nine Democratic candidates running for mayor. He is a graduate of Mishawaka High School and Indiana University South Bend. He told The Tribune after filing for mayor that he runs a small business that focuses on “short-term rental and ride-sharing services.”

According to court records, Smith has faced other financial problems recently, in addition to his Suburban being repossessed. His home on Whitehall Avenue is currently the subject of a foreclosure lawsuit and was previously involved in another foreclosure lawsuit, which was ultimately dismissed in 2014.

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