Well, maybe not safe and sound, but home again, none-the-less.On Thursday, February 24th, about 4:45 P.M., the police released our pickup after dusting for fingerprints. We know they found fingerprints, but we have never been told if they were ours or the thief's. Either way, John and Dustin went to the police station and picked up the truck. While they were trying to get it on the trailer, an officer walked a man into the station. The officer said to John, "If it's any consolation, this is the guy who stole your truck." The man said, "I didn't steal nothin'." As it turned out, the bed of the truck had been moved over too much so the truck was too wide for the trailer. John ended up driving it the three blocks home. Needless to say, it didn't drive very well. It was definitely wounded.
As the thief ran the stop sign and crossed through First Street (one of our main streets), he ran into another car. The other car hit the front, driver's side, just in front of the wheel. The impact was so hard that it bent the front axle and the frame, bending the truck into a U-shape. You can see the space between the cab and the bed in the picture below. One of the two passengers in the other car was treated for minor injuries. The other passenger was not injured.
You can see the ripple in the bed, right next to the cab. This is the inside of the "U".
How the guy was found.... My friend, Lorie, works on Main Street. About 3:30 she went outside to warm up her van to melt the ice on her windshield so she could pick her kids up at school. Her kids ended up walking to her office. Her son, Brody, who is in the same class as JJ, talked to a guy on the street in front of Lorie's office. The guy said he was from Virginia, new to Pratt, and asked for directions. Brody gave him the directions. The guy got into their van and drove it away. I'm not sure if Brody saw him do that or if he was in the office with his mom. The thief drove the van a short ways (several blocks) and abandoned it. It was found about 30 minutes later. Brody was able to give the cops a detailed description of the man and he was arrested at his father's home shortly after.
What we know about the thief - he is 26 years old and had been out of prison (in the east) for burglary for about 14 days. He had been living in Pratt with his dad for about 10 days. They lived one street over from our house. He took our keys the day after he got to Pratt (the night of the 15th). He "borrowed" his first vehicle on the 17th. In all, he took five or six vehicles and "returned" (abandoned) them all within several blocks of where they were taken, except for our truck, which he wrecked and then ran from the scene. All-in-all, his crime spree lasted for nine days.
In Kansas there is a law called the Joyriding Law. It says that if someone "borrows" and "returns" a vehicle then they won't be charged with a felony. I guess the reasoning is so that 16 year old kids who borrow a farmer's truck and go for a joyride won't have a felony on their record for the rest of their lives. (I heard the other day that it is being reviewed and might be changed - this was started prior to our Pratt joyriding spree.)
To read the article in the Pratt Tribune, go here.
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