• In this 2014 photo, Marv Smith stands next to his 1971 Chevy pickup. The truck was stolen, and later recovered, over the weekend. REGISTER FILE PHOTO

Famed pickup stolen, recovered

The Iola Register

A pair of thieves might want to think again before stealing what may be the most iconic vehicle in Iola history.

Marv Smith, Iola’s long-time cross country coach, reported the theft of his 1971 Chevrolet pickup from his garage Sunday morning.

By Sunday afternoon — aided by hundreds of shares on Facebook, and scattered eye-witness accounts of seeing the young suspects in the missing vehicle — Smith’s pickup was spotted parked in front of a house in Prescott.

The two thieves, whose names have not been released, apparently traded in the pickup for a separate vehicle by the time they were arrested, Smith said.

“It’s just amazing how fast word spread,” Smith told the Register.

Smith limits his usage of the pickup for cross country season because of its age, and its propensity to break down at inopportune moments.

However, he and some of his students were assisting with a company picnic for Gates Corporation over the weekend, so Smith figured he would use his old pickup to haul supplies.

The pickup is parked in an open garage.

He admits usually leaving his keys on the floorboard, and in checking to make sure the old truck would fire up, Smith noticed his keys were missing Friday morning.

“That’s when I knew somebody had messed with it,” he said. 

A cursory check found nothing else missing, so Smith declined to report the missing keys to police, and instead used his regular pickup for the picnic.

By Sunday morning, however, whoever had taken the keys had returned and helped themselves to the vehicle.

“I went out to the garage and it was gone,” Smith said.

A neighbor, who had spotted two people milling around Smith’s garage a few days earlier, reported the findings. 

Another witness saw them as they were leaving the alley behind his house, Smith said. 

“At first he thought I was driving, but then he saw them hit the curb as they were leaving,” Smith said. “He just thought, ‘Wow, Marv is letting just about anybody drive his truck.’”

Another former runner of Smith’s — he’s coached cross country and track for more than 50 years — spotted the pickup going eastbound on U.S. 54 in Gas.

Descriptions of the two suspects matched in all three instances, Smith noted.

By then, word had spread via social media, with hundreds of Facebook shares and photos of the old Chevy.

Then came word a few hours later that the pickup had been found in Prescott, about 20 miles north of Fort Scott, but with the keys still missing.

Although Smith is relieved to have recovered the pickup, his hopes of finding the keys lie with the man to whom the two thieves attempted to trade vehicles.

Otherwise, he’ll have to find a mechanic to replace the ignition mechanism.

“And then I’ll still have to hope it starts,” Smith joked. “I’m afraid they drove it so far and so fast, it’ll blow the engine.”

The 1971 Chevy has been nicknamed Sheridan (Larson) Brull, in honor of one of Smith’s former runners, who years ago used the vehicle for her senior photo shoot.

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