When Nathan and Katie Dever parked their travel trailer in their business parking lot, they never thought it would go missing. Nor did they probably ever think that they’d turn into do-it-yourself detectives. But both happened, and inside a 24-hour span, they found their stolen RV. Their story may help you develop leads if your own rig is ever purloined.
Security cam—man with a pickup
On Monday, July 24, the Devers found their rig had vanished in the night. Their business in Helotes, Texas, had a security camera system and, sure enough, they found images of a man with a pickup truck, hooking up and towing away their rig just a few hours earlier.
If you’re a crook, what do you do when you’ve stolen someone’s RV and you need ready cash? Selling the rig itself could prove a bit tricky, what with VIN numbers, vehicle titles and all. But think about the “loot” inside the rig. The Devers put on the mindset of someone who wanted quick cash, and enlisted the help of friends to eyeball internet “buy and sell” sites serving the area. They reasoned if they could find their stuff for sale, they might find their stolen RV.
Loot marketed on Facebook
It was solid reasoning. One of the Devers’ helpers spotted a folding ladder for sale on a Facebook Marketplace ad. The ladder looked suspiciously similar to one that was in the travel trailer when it was stolen. Interestingly enough, the ladder seller also listed a pickup truck for sale—and it looked like the one from the security cam footage of the trailer theft. The advertisement photo also showed the license plate number on the truck, but police told them the plate was stolen, so identifying the truck owner and address was impossible from that angle. Nevertheless, the Facebook posting did give an approximate location on the southwest side of San Antonio.
Included in the batch of photos the “seller” posted on Facebook was a house number. Nathan and Katies’ friends “saddled up” and headed to the area. It didn’t take them long to locate the address—and they found the stolen RV, parked in a driveway. At this point, the do-it-yourself detectives turned the case over to the professionals—the San Antonio Police Department.
“Offer Up” excuse doesn’t wash
When the police rolled up, they found a man walking around outside the home. The man, Joseph Whitaker, 43, admitted that he had moved the travel trailer. His explanation was simple—and as transparent as mud. Whitaker says he’d just bought the trailer from another internet sales site, “Offer Up.” But picking up something you bought at 3:30 in the morning, nicely recorded on the real owner’s security system, didn’t exactly convince police of Whitaker’s innocence.
If convicted of the charges, theft between $2,500 to $30,000, Whitaker could have up to two years to learn to spin a better story, while he sits it out in a state prison.
Be careful if you find your own stolen RV
Meantime, here’s another take on the story of the couple that found their stolen RV. Contact the police. Do some “leg work” to see if you can track down the bad guys. But DON’T confront someone you suspect of ripping off your ride. A San Antonio police officer commented to local news media, referencing folks who try to “retrieve their own items,” that kind of action can lead to trouble. “Accidents happen. They get shot. They get stabbed. It’s just, it’s not safe.”
All images KSAT.COM, source of the original story.