Private Iowa Lake Turns Into Brief Crime Scene

AVON LAKE, Iowa  --  The day began as an opportunity for Sharon Hill and Larry Watkins to finally enjoy spring in their backyard overlooking private Avon Lake.

"We live here because it's quiet, no noise at all," said Larry.

But it quickly turned into a front row seat to a Polk County and Des Moines Police Department investigation.

"Some of our divers went in with a boat and with our equipment we could find we had some sort of object down there," said SWAT operations sergeant Chris Wellman.

Earlier in the week, residents noticed unusual tire tracks on the beach sand.

Larry said, "We wondered what had happened because the tracks went directly into the water. There were no other tracks around."

A dive team was called in on Friday and pulled out a white Dodge Charger with Warren County plates.

Sergeant Wellman said, "Once we got it out, we determined right away it was a stolen car.  It had been reported stolen under a Des Moines case number."

When the white Charger was pulled out of the lake, the work was not over.  Due to the soft sand, both the tow truck and dive officers' vehicles were stuck needing help.

"Getting our stuff down there was easy.  Getting out, as you can see, was a bit difficult, but Crow Tow did a great job helping us out," said Wellman.

Residents say the search gave them a brief scare when officers opened the truck.

"We are really glad there was nobody in it and that it was empty," said Sharon.

Not completely.  Divers providing a surprisingly pleasant omen for fishing season on the private lake.

"He pulled out a carp this long," Sharon said holding her arms out wide. "It was a big carp, and threw it back in the water so it is there for us to catch."

Reeling in any suspects in the stolen vehicle, however, may be more difficult.

"Unfortunately, pulling this car out of the middle of the lake, any evidence we might have had on the car is gone," said Wellman.

No suspects have been named in the case. The Polk County Sheriff's Office is handling the investigation.