Man’s stolen SUV held as evidence indefinitely for homicide investigation: ‘My car is in jail’

A Nebraska man says his car is not being released to him due to a homicide investigation. (Souce: WOWT)
Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 2:22 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2022 at 2:29 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT/(Gray News) - A man in Nebraska says he is frustrated that he cannot get his stolen car back even after it has been found.

Sean Yakopec said he feels victimized by two crimes as his car was stolen, but now it’s being held as evidence for an unsolved homicide investigation.

WOWT reports Yakopec’s 2022 Kia Sportage is currently sitting at the city impound, but he can’t see or touch it.

“[It’s] like my car is in jail, and I feel like I didn’t do anything wrong for it,” Yakopec said.

Impound lot manager Reggie Johnson said the vehicle is on a homicide and auto theft hold for the Omaha Police Department.

The homicide investigation is from two weeks ago and remains unsolved, but detectives are holding Yakopec’s Sportage as it is possibly involved in the crime.

“They want to use it as evidence. I don’t understand why they want to keep the car when they can just take pictures of it, take fingerprints, do whatever they need to and give me the car back,” Yakopec said.

Omaha police said they couldn’t reveal details of the murder investigation, but a recovered car has to be held as evidence in a murder case — often through trial.

“Some defense attorneys will ask to see the vehicle to physically prove this was the vehicle used in the case being investigated,” Officer Chris Gordon said.

With a broken window and a hacked ignition, all Yakopec currently has from his Kia are the keys. He said he would like to retrieve sunglasses and a few personal items from the recovered stolen car.

“They have to do an investigation; forensics prints and all of that. If you go back and touch that car, you’ve compromised it,” Johnson said.

Omaha police said a recovered stolen vehicle possibly used in a homicide isn’t completely untouchable.

“It’s possible to release those smaller items, but the vehicle has to stay with us,” Gordon said.

But with no arrests and a trial that’s nowhere in sight — for how long?

“I put my savings into this car, and I have nothing to show for it now,” Yakopec said.

Yet his car payments are still due.

While his vehicle with just 10,000 miles is on hold and sits behind the locked fence at the impound lot, Yakopec said that even though he’s been told there’s little damage, he’s been talking to his insurance company about totaling out the vehicle.

And while insurance payments for a rental car might end in about two weeks, Yakopec said his patience on the release of his Kia has already run out.

“It’s easier for my mental health to just be done with the car,” he said.

Authorities said the shooting death of Alon Reed, 19, remains an active investigation. Any tips leading to the arrest of a homicide suspect can earn up to a $2,500 reward through Omaha Crime Stoppers.