GREENFIELD, Ind -- Authorities in Hancock County have dismissed an auto theft charge against a woman who says the theft was perpetrated by someone posing as her.
Kristen Parr, 25, was arrested late Thursday night at her Speedway home and booked into the Hancock County jail on a charge of auto theft. She was accused of taking a car for a test drive and never returning it to West Main Auto Sales on September 27.
Parr spent four nights and three days in jail before the case was dismissed during her initial hearing in Hancock County Superior Court 2. She was released from jail shortly after the Monday morning court hearing.
The dismissal came after investigators looked into Parr’s assertion that somebody had used her stolen identity to take the car, and this wasn’t the first time it had happened.
“I’m angry,” Parr said after leaving the jail. “I feel like I was made to be a criminal when I was a victim.”
“We as prosecutors seek justice and never want to have the wrong person in custody,” said Hancock County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Marie Castetter. “I felt it was best at this point to dismiss the case until further investigation is done.”
Parr says somebody stole her purse and ID at the Circle Center Mall back in February. In March, somebody used her drivers license to test drive and steal a vehicle from Mike’s Auto Sales in Indianapolis. In July, the same thing happened at Lupita’s Auto Sales in Lawrence. Police reports from IMPD and Lawrence PD support Parr’s claims, and she says both incidents were cleared up with police.
Parr says she didn’t even know she was being investigated for the September 27 auto theft in Greenfield until last Thursday.
“I got a notification in the mail that there was a warrant for my arrest for auto theft,” Parr said.
Parr said she immediately called Greenfield police to discuss the matter. She said she agreed to meet a Greenfield police detective on Monday to give a recorded statement. However, she says that meeting never happened.
“Couple hours go by, and there’s six to seven sheriffs in my alley arresting me,” Parr said.
Parr says officers drove her to a gas station in Greenfield, where she met the investigator on the case. She said she spoke to the officer and told him about somebody using her stolen identity in previous auto thefts. However, she says the officer took her to the Hancock County Jail.
“They made me think I was going to get released. I just needed to speak to them, but they brought me to the jail and booked me,” Parr said.
Parr says she told police she was on a road trip to Kentucky, traveling on I-65 at the time the car was stolen from West Main Auto. She also says the photo of the thief provided by the car dealership looks nothing like her.
Hancock County offices were closed Friday for the Riley Days Festival, and courts aren’t open during weekends, so Parr spent Thursday night through Monday morning in jail.
“Here I am doing four nights and three days in jail, and my poor family and friends are concerned about me,” Parr said. “They’re putting money on my books for something I didn’t even do.”
Castetter said she was contacted late Friday about questions surrounding Parr’s case.
“Because there was such information out there that we really wanted to make sure that we had the right person,” Castetter said. “And so, at that point, we felt it was proper to dismiss it, further investigate, and then make a decision on further charging if needed.”
“I was first able to meet with any Hancock County officials just this morning, minutes prior to the dismissal of the case,” said Parr’s attorney, Larry Whitham.
Greenfield Police Chief Jeff Rasche says his department is still investigating the questions surrounding the case. He says the department is working to confirm Parr’s alibi about being on a road trip on the day of the theft and have gathered background information on the previous incidents at other dealerships.
“What we’re going to do is go back and recheck all of our work and use some of the information that she has provided us to be able to put some more of the pieces together that weren’t even available at the time,” Rasche said.
Chief Rasche says his investigating officer did attempt to reach out to Parr before seeking the arrest warrant. A probable cause affidavit said the investigating officer attempted to call Parr using the phone number left at the dealership by the woman who stole the car, but the call immediately went to voicemail. Rasche admits it’s possible the officer was calling a false number left by the thief.
Rasche also says two eyewitnesses at the car dealership claim the woman who took the car is Kristen Parr. Investigators are now trying to determine whether it was actually someone posing as Parr.
“We want to make sure we get this right, and I think that’s the right thing to do,” Chief Rasche said. “And we’re going to keep working on it until we do so.”
Rasche and Castetter both say the investigation is ongoing, and they do have the option to file the case against Parr again if their findings support that.
Parr insists the investigation will continue to clear her name.
“I just felt like they wanted to push it through as fast as they could, and I had no warning of it,” Parr said. “I think they should really be ashamed of themselves for making me feel like a criminal when I was really a victim and didn’t care to look into this any further with me.”
The Indiana Attorney General's Office has a website dedicated to preventing identity theft and lists steps to take if you become a victim.