Man charged with stealing vehicle from YWCA homelessness program

The back end of Homeward Bound apartments. Herald File Photo

Tipsters on Whitefish First Nation helped police catch a man who allegedly stole an SUV from the YWCA’s Homeward Bound program.

Elvis Bird was arrested on September 15. He is facing charges of theft, break-and-enter and possession of stolen property. On Tuesday, a judge let him out on bail.

The SUV disappeared in April from the back parking lot of the program, which provides supportive housing to people who have struggled with long-term homelessness. It was a 2016 Honda CRV, valued at roughly $10,000.

Dave Hobden, the program’s director, told police that the theft may have related to an earlier break-and-enter, when an unknown person stole keys from inside Homeward Bound.

Prosecutor Gail Douglas called the whole episode a “peculiar one.”

About a week later, the YWCA got a tip from a woman from Whitefish First Nation, who said her daughter spotted Bird driving the SUV around the reserve. A tipster later sent police a picture of Bird, who could be seen sitting inside the vehicle.

By then, however, police had already found the SUV. Douglas said it was left abandoned in a forest.

“It appeared someone had tried to light the vehicle on fire, as the interior was full of smoke damage,” Douglas said.

Bird was already on a conditional sentence order. He had previous convictions for break-and-enter and possession of a stolen vehicle. Douglas argued that he should stay in jail, but his lawyer said that he would likely lose his home and his job if he wasn’t released.

Judge E. Kalenith opted to let him out on bail. He noted that Bird hadn’t faced any recent charges for violence, and wasn’t a significant danger to the community.

Kalenith imposed a number of conditions, imposing a curfew and restricting Bird from operating a motor vehicle without the presence of the registered owner.