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Social media sleuths on Stolen KC connect victims with tipsters to recover taken property

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- If someone steals your property what do you do? You of course call police, but for many crime victims in the metro that’s just one of the ways they are getting their stuff back these days.

“It was stolen January 15th and it got recovered today,” Dave Brucker says to Todd Howerton in his makeshift basement TV studio.

“63,489 members,” Howerton says on the Facebook Live broadcast. “Nice keep sharing keep adding,” Brucker responds.

Members of the Facebook group Stolen KC are on the lookout when someone in the group becomes a crime victim. Like business owner Scott Strain, who had a trailer full of furniture he and his wife had worked countless hours on vanish from his driveway.

“Stolen KC, somebody told us that morning to get on and try it and I’m sure glad I did,” Strain said.

The site connects crime victims with tipsters. It’s something Brucker, the group founder, wished was around when his bike was stolen as a child, or two of his trucks were stolen in 2014.

“You call the police and that’s what you are supposed to do. But you want do more and how do you do more?”Brucker wondered.

For Strain simply waiting and hoping police tracked down the more than $50,000 worth of furniture he was transporting from a show to the West Bottoms wasn’t an option.

“It was a matter of we had to find our stuff or we were going to lose our business,” he said.

Strain scoured through the dozens of comments and leads, until he discovered his neighbor was also posting on the site about his truck being stolen. Together they realized the stolen truck towed the trailer. More calls to detectives and direct messaging to people with knowledge of the crime would finally bring him face-to-face with the thieves.

“This mirror was leaned up against the bedroom wall, still had the pricetags on it,” Strain said inside Bent Hinge Trading Company’s retails space at Bottoms Up.

Brucker recently started doing the live broadcasts to draw attention to key cases he’d like to see solved.

“Share this, share this and I’m telling you the more heat you put on any of these vehicles these guys are watching this stuff. “If someone’s out looking for this, these guys are ditching it and that’s when we recover it,” said in a recent live broadcast.

Posts from members range from stolen pets, to stolen lives.

“We’ve had suspects in murders get discovered from tips, it has gone the gamete,” Brucker said.

With dozens of people posting daily, the pet project has become a lot closer to a full time job for a team of admins who’ve had to come up with rules to protect everyone involved.

“If you are going to name a suspect or someone that you are looking for and you are going to post them up there, you better have that police report number or we delete it,” Brucker said.

That partnership with police is something Brucker preaches.

“We want to be a supplement, we don’t want to be a replacement. We always say go to the police go to the police go to the police,” Brucker said.

Scott Strain worked with police to get his property back once he tracked it down. He’s thankful for their help, and the community’s.

“If you are a member of Kansas City and would like to help out and keep an eye out on your neighborhood. It’s a group you need to be a part of because we absolutely would not have gotten our stuff back without that group, I feel that wholeheartedly,” Strain said.

Brucker is just thankful to be making a difference. He recommends people photograph their valuables to make them easier to track down by either paid detectives or those on social media.

“I would never had imagined it would help the people that it has,” he said.