By Kelsey Givens
Several people have been arrested in connection with the theft of a large NASCAR memorabilia collection from a storage locker on Simkins Road earlier this month.
According to several declarations of arrest in the case, on March 3 a storage unit at 900 E. Simkins Road was burglarized and a large collection of die cast model cars was stolen.
According to a family member of the victim in this case, somewhere between $12,000 and $15,000 worth of items were taken from the unit.
On March 7, police received information that a man by the name of Larry Whitehead Jr., was soliciting people to sell NASCAR model cars, like those taken from the victim’s storage unit. He did not, however, say where he got them.
The same people who told police Whitehead was trying to sell the cars also reportedly told officers the stolen items may be located at his old girlfriend, Ashley Meikle’s home in the 2500 block of Ambler Way.
On March 8, Nye County Sheriff’s deputies served a search warrant on the home of Vicky Bush, Meikle’s mother, where they reportedly found drug paraphernalia, marijuana, hypodermic needles, prescription pills without prescriptions, several of the stolen model cars and jewelry stolen from a local jeweler.
Both Bush and Meikle told officers on scene that the cars did not belong to them and had been brought there by a third party. They also reportedly stated the stolen jewelry was purchased from “shady characters” in Pahrump.
Both Bush and Meikle were placed under arrest for the stolen property and drugs located in the home and Child Protective Services were called to take custody of several children also in the home as well.
Two days later on March 10, two more people were arrested after police served a search warrant on a residence at 1821 W. Betty Ave., looking for another person connected to the theft or sales of the stolen collection.
According to the declaration of arrests from that night, a man named Robert Lee Hacker Jr. had allegedly allowed a woman attempting to sell the stolen model cars to stay at his home while she was attempting to liquidate the items.
When police came to search Hacker’s residence, he allegedly told officers he had seen the woman staying at his home in possession of NASCAR die cast model vehicles, but she had left the home and Hacker reportedly refused to cooperate further.
Despite his unwillingness to help, a search of Hacker’s residence revealed illegal prescription medication and drug paraphernalia in his room as well as a billy club and nunchaku in the shed. A second resident of the home, Martin Carl Ryynanen, was also found in possession of illegally held prescription medication and drug paraphernalia as well.
Both Ryynanen and Hacker were taken into custody that evening and booked into the Nye County Detention Center on several drug-related charges including being under the influence. Hacker was also charged as an accessory and in possession of a dangerous weapon.
A third search warrant in the case was served on March 12 at the home of a sixth suspect, Steven Dunegan’s home at 1101 N. Leslie Street.
According to a press release issued on Dunegan’s arrest, the NCSO Street Crimes Unit went to his home looking for stolen property at approximately 3 p.m. where they recovered a stolen fifth wheel camper, a stolen Yamaha quad, a stolen Vizio HD television and some of the missing NASCAR die cast model cars.
Officers also reportedly discovered methamphetamine, numerous prescription tablets that appeared to be packaged for sale and numerous items of drug paraphernalia that consisted of, but were not limited to hypodermic devices, suspected methamphetamine pipes with residue, a marijuana grinder, numerous packaging baggies, scales and concealment devices as well.
Dunegan was arrested during the search on multiple charges of possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of stolen vehicles, possession of more than $2,500 worth of stolen property, possession of methamphetamine, possession of a schedule four controlled substance and possession of a hypodermic device.
Though police have arrested six people thus far in connection with the theft of thousands of dollars worth of NASCAR memorabilia, the victim’s family member said it is less than 10 percent of the entire collection that was taken from their storage unit. As far as he knew on Thursday only around six of nearly 500 or 600 items have been found.
While only that small fraction of the collection has been recovered, the victim’s family member said he is impressed by the work the NCSO Street Crimes unit has put into recovering the stolen collection.
“I just want to thank them for all the work they’re doing, because they’re doing hard work out there. … Last Sunday the sergeant called me four times at home and in fact he brought me an envelope full of stuff at 2 o’clock in the morning. The Street Crimes Unit has been fantastic as far as I’m concerned,” the man said.
The NCSO Street Crimes unit is still actively investigating this case and looking for additional suspects in order to recover the victim’s missing items.
The press releases issued on the incident notes the team is anticipating additional arrests in the future.
Anyone with any information about this case or the stolen items can call the sheriff’s office to report what they know at 775-751-7000.