Shortly after the Thurlow family of Waterford moved to Kentucky, daughter Cassie, left, had her dream truck stolen. Also pictured, dad, Ian, and mom, Morgan Thurlow. Nicole Carter /Advertiser Democrat file

KENTUCKY — In June the Thurlow family (Ian, Morgan and daughter Cassie), formerly of Waterford, thought they were celebrating a series of achievements and the joy of new beginnings.

With the help of dad Ian, Cassie had realized her dream of building out her own truck from the tires up. After months of nights, weekends and trial and error and dogged determination, the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School student drove her truck, a 1998 Chevy 1500 pick-up, to her graduation.

A month later, half-way across the country in Kentucky, the family was sent reeling when Cassie’s beloved truck was stolen

The week after Cassie’s graduation, with their Oxford Hills home packed up, the family set out on an 1,100 mile journey to resettle in New London, Kentucky. There they would close on their new house. Ian would start a new job. Cassie would enroll in cosmetology school.

But from the start, nothing went according to plan. Morgan said that Ian’s truck, hauling a loaded storage trailer kept snapping studs in his rear tire. The airbag lines of the truck let go a couple of times. Cassie had a flat due to a nail in one tire. She said it took about three days to get to their destination.

“We took our time, but it was nonstop bad luck all the way down,” Morgan said. “But we made it to the campsite, where we planned to spend one week.”


The day before closing on their new home, the sale fell through. Not willing to call a campsite home, they regrouped fast and managed to find another house for sale. With time to kill between signing the new real estate contract and closing, they decided to travel instead of camp and drove down to Florida to visit family there.

They parked Ian’s truck, Cassie’s truck and two trailers filled with their possessions at a gated storage facility in London and left on their last-minute vacation. While at Disneyworld, the Thurlows received a heart-stopping call from the storage yard owners: Cassie’s truck was stolen on July 13.

The thieves had cut through the storage site’s chain link fence, hotwired her truck, drove it up a steep embankment and disappeared into the night.

Cassie’s dream truck was gone, replaced by a nightmare the family hadn’t imagined.

The facility owners claimed that nothing like this had ever happened before. The storage yard had fake security cameras set up, instead of the “secure surveillance system” listed in their service contract. And, apparently, vehicle theft was not included in their liability insurance, only fire or flood. The reason? Because it is a high-risk area for stolen vehicles.

The Laurel County Sheriff’s Office assigned an officer to take a statement on the crime but then did nothing to investigate. The deputy only returned the Thurlow’s calls after their repeated attempts to reach him. Nor did the sheriff’s office communicate with the local or state police to share or ask for information.


“We emailed the sheriff’s office a list of everything we had in the truck and raced back to Kentucky as fast as we could to protect the rest of what we had,” Morgan said.

Ian, Morgan and Cassie Thurlow hope to put this flier in as many hands as possible and for anyone with information to contact the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office in Kentucky with leads on their stolen truck.

Once they returned the Thurlows began investigating themselves. They handed out more than 400 fliers around the area to businesses and individuals, complete with a $1,000 reward for information leading to recovery of Cassie’s truck.

It was the Thurlows who discovered that a nearby convenience store’s security camera captured Cassie’s truck being driven away at 3 a.m.

“The sheriff’s office hadn’t gone to the scene, they hadn’t gone to look at the video footage,” Morgan said. “A few locals told us where in the woods thieves like to dump vehicles when they’re done with them. Sometimes vehicles have been chopped up, sometimes burned, sometimes just abandoned.

“We drove through areas looking where we probably never should have been. Very sketchy situations.”

They also began going to pawn shops and monitoring the local Facebook marketplace and Craig’s List, reasoning that some of Ian’s tools and equipment that had been stolen with the truck might pop up. So far, nothing has emerged.


They found out through the grapevine that the Laurel County Sheriff had never even listed the VIN numbers for Cassie’s truck in their system as being stolen. Other than returning Morgan’s call and requesting the list of stolen items, the Thurlows have had no interaction with the sheriff’s office.

With the sheriff’s office no longer responding at all after a few days Morgan decided to go to the other law enforcement agencies herself. No one with the local police had been notified, she said. But the London Police Department put the Thurlows in touch with the detective at Kentucky’s state police who handles auto thefts, Det. Nicholas Metcalf.

“Det. Metcalf sent up a helicopter the next day,” Morgan said. “He’s been very proactive. He went to the scene, talked around and handed out his card. He told us he lit the fire and now we would have to wait. He did say that if we find the truck, it will not look the same.

“He works with people who are really into auto theft (rackets), like you see in the movies. He said he knows exactly what county the truck is in. He told us, ‘I know how these guys work.’”

Metcalf’s investigation beat covers 90 of Kentucky’s 120 counties. He has made no promises that Cassie’s truck will be recovered but expects to eventually solve the crime. The Thurlows’ $1,000 reward is likely to nudge someone towards providing the tip they need.

“We are not going stop,” Morgan said. “The worst thing we can do is stop trying. The auto theft is not going to stop unless we prosecute them for what they’re doing.

“We’ve had quite a few people tell us to not stop looking. And that we should file a complaint with the attorney general here that some police are not doing their job. This was not just a stolen vehicle.”

For now, Cassie has enrolled in cosmetology school. She is getting around in a black Chevy Tahoe, but it is not the same as her own truck.

“Every red truck she sees breaks her heart,” Morgan said. “She didn’t even get the chance to do a burnout with it.”

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.