Stolen Lincolns

Sept. 18, 2010

By Jacob Quinn Sanders
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Getting fired wasn’t the worst part of Eric Ayers’ Thursday.

The 35-year-old drove by a piece of Pulaski County land he bought south of Sweet Home where he planned to build a house. The drive was the same one he made every day.

To help finance the down payment for construction, he had decided to sell off three old Lincolns he parked there, cars he’d had for a while but could no longer justify keeping.

But on Thursday, he couldn’t see the gold 1984 Mark VI that usually peeked out from its spot next to a brown Torry Manor trailer. When Ayers drove off Arkansas 365 and over the weeds onto the property just south of Higgins Switch Road, he didn’t see the white 1979 Town Car or the green 1979 Versailles. Also missing was a blue Chevrolet truck set high on mud tires a friend kept there.

“This ain’t your average punk or some drug addict,” Ayers said Friday. “Man, this was something organized and coordinated.”

He figured the thieves must have had a flat-bed or a tow truck to haul off his cars.

“I still got all the keys,” he said.

Ayers said he had no idea who would target him or why.

“I got no idea, man, no idea,” he said.

He said he wanted $2,000 for the Versailles and maybe could have gotten $1,500 for the Mark VI.

“The Town Car, maybe like $600 or $800,” Ayers said.

Not only were the cars gone, but the thieves ripped out and tossed on the ground the things meant to have a place in the new house that Ayers stored inside them.

The frame on the President’s Honors certificate from the Southeast College of Technology bearing Ayers’ name was cracked, the glass broken. Nearby was the book All’s Fair by political power couple James Carville and Mary Matalin. A place mat with an image of six green palm trees sat alone not far from R&B singer D’Angelo’s Brown Sugar CD. A hot pink stuffed dog lay twisted on the ground like it had been shot in midstride.

The thieves also took an air-conditioning unit out of the trailer, but they left an airhockey table propped on its side in a makeshift shed.

“Well, tell them thank you for that at least,” Ayers said.

For whatever reason, Ayers said, the thieves left behind a Mercedes 500 SEL and a Toyota Corolla, a couple motorcycles and his riding lawnmower.

The Pulaski County sheriff’s office report taken Thursday offers no information about any suspect because Ayers didn’t have any. Sheriff’s office spokesman Lt. Carl Minden said Friday that investigators had made little progress.

“To be honest, we’re just getting started on the case,” he said.

While Ayers was at the property Thursday giving sheriff’s office Deputy Daphne McCoy what information he could, his boss at the Newsmart liquor store in downtown Little Rock kept calling him.

“I was like, man, I got some stuff going on right now, some life stuff, and I can’t talk to him right now,” Ayers said.

When they did talk, the boss told Ayers he was fired for leaving a $40 IOU note in a cash drawer. He said he would rather have his cars to sell than the job, but the firing still stung.

“I was trying to get that all settled,” Ayers said about the IOU. “But he didn’t hear me, I guess. I should talk to him. He left me a message this morning. Maybe he wants to give me my job back.”

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