The Rosebud County Sheriff's Department has arrested two suspects in a theft of a vehicle from a football game Friday night in Columbus.
The suspects crashed the car, a 2006 Silver Audi SE A6 3.2, in Forsyth on Saturday afternoon and "bailed out into some woods," said Rosebud County Sheriff Allen Fulton. The two men were caught after the police spent over two hours looking for them, Fulton said.
The Rosebud County Sheriff's Office and the Columbus Police Department are investigating the thefts.
The Audi was one of two students' cars stolen from the Columbus High School parking lot during Friday's football game between Columbus and Three Forks, according to Columbus superintendent Jeff Bermes. Seven to 10 cell phones, 11 sets of car keys, four wallets, and one backpack were stolen from the Columbus football team's locker room, said Bermes, who added that earlier estimates on social media of the number of items stolen were exaggerated.
Police are still searching for those stolen items and the second car, a 2013 Black BMW SV X5, said Columbus Police Chief Jacob Ward. The BMW belongs to Columbus senior running back/defensive end Tommy Campbell, and Hannes Chandler drove the Audi.
"The BMW has disappeared into thin air," said Campbell's mother Cristy Goldsmith.
Bermes said the school will lock the doors to its locker rooms during future football games and other sporting events that aren't centrally located in the gym. School officials also plan to update the security camera systems, he said, adding that cameras don't cover the entrance to Columbus' locker rooms, among other areas.
Columbus has a school resource officer, and staff members often monitor school gates, Bermes said. The Columbus Police Department and Stillwater County Sheriff's Office have presences at sporting events, as well, he said.
"It’s very disheartening that someone would basically take advantage of our kids," Bermes said. "These kids and these parents feel violated."
The theft happened during the second half of Friday's game, Bermes and Goldsmith said. The suspects paid to get in, she said, and some spectators noticed the "sketchy" men standing inside the stadium during the first half.
After celebrating a 32-0 win, Columbus' players and coaches returned to a locker room with clothes and other belongings strewn across the floor. Several Cougars soon discovered that their valuables were missing.
The key fob for Campbell's BMW was tucked away in his jeans pocket under a pile of other items, Goldsmith said, sparking fear that the heist was planned.
"It kind of made everyone freak out," Goldsmith said. "It’s one thing to have a random act of evil happen. But to think that people were watched and things were planned, it takes it to another level."
Some of the stolen sets of keys included house keys, and many of the people who own those houses have changed the locks to their doors, Goldsmith said.
"It felt like a violation that you would never expect in a small, rural community like Columbus," Goldsmith said.
As of Saturday night, the police did not indicate if the stolen keys, wallets, and phones were stashed in the Audi, the BMW or both.