OLATHE, Ks. -- Cries for help come in many forms. The manager of one Facebook group says he's listening, which is why he's established Stolen KC, a group where theft victims in the metro can ask the public for assistance.
Olathe's David Brucker says he's been there before. Last August, two of his lawn care company's trucks were stolen, and he wanted a way to notify the public to keep an eye open for them.
"I know what it's like to have something taken. I don't like it and I know others don't like it," Brucker said.
That's when Brucker opened Stolen KC. That page invites victims of thefts in the metro to post photos and details about items they've lost to criminals.
"It seemed to be a good idea, Brucker said. "People started to follow. People started to promote it themselves."
Since then, it's grown to over 3,200 members, many of whom have had cars or other items stolen.
Brucker says police eventually helped him recover his trucks. He points out Stolen KC isn't meant to be a substitute for police involvement. In fact, it's meant to help them solve crimes. Officer Gary Mason with the Overland Park Police Department agrees, saying community cooperation can help lead police to quicker solutions.
"This is something where we say, 'If you see this, call the police.' That's what we recommend," Brucker said.
Gladstone, Mo., business operator Lane Hewitt says he didn't want to go to the police at all. He runs Tintmaster, a window tinting business, and recognized the high school-aged boy who stole a car stereo from the store next door.
Hewitt posted a photo of the juvenile, one he snagged from his business' surveilance cameras. He says once word got around to the Stolen KC group, the can stereo was returned to its owner the next day.
"It's nice to know there are still people out there who care about doing the right thing or who want to help people who have been victims of theft," Hewitt said.
It doesn't cost a dime to use Stolen KC, and the only thing Brucker asks to post a stolen automobile are the last four digits of the car's VIN number. Precautions like that help Brucker avoid misuse of the Facebook group.
Brucker says he's also working on a mobile app version of Stolen KC, which has recently started a profile on Twitter as well.
You can use these links to find Stolen KC on social media:
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/groups/stolenkc/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/StolenKC