Alert neighbor scares away suspected truck thieves, helps link them to separate crime

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A watchful neighbor caught suspected crooks in the act as they tried to steal her neighbor's truck right out of his driveway in the Northland.

The woman acted quickly by yelling at the car thief and writing down the license plate of his getaway car. That vital information helped detectives link the suspects to another crime across town.

Junior Bauer had some strong words for the people who allegedly tried to steal his brand new F-350 pick-up truck that was parked in his driveway.

“I think they`re worthless,” he said. “People that need money, that don`t work, that want to get things for free.”

They aren’t the kind of people he wants in his neighborhood, but there they were, trolling the streets Wednesday morning on NE 46th Terrace in Kansas City, Mo., looking for an easy steal.

“It`s what this world`s coming to,” Bauer said, shaking his head.

Bauer's truck was running, but the keys weren't in it.

“I started my truck yesterday morning remotely from my house,” he said. “The truck has to be locked to even start it…You can’t move the truck without putting the key in anyway. It has a chip in it. So it was worthless to even try.”

Meanwhile his neighbor, Shaylene Caffey, was standing at her front door watching her kids get on the school bus, when she noticed a suspicious car stop right outside Bauer's house.

“A young guy jumped out,” she recalled, “ran over to the door of Junior`s truck, and it was running, so he checked the door and I saw him kind of look back towards the car and at that point, I just yelled across the street at him.”

Caught in the act, the guy jumped back into his getaway car –but Caffey was quick.

“I kind of walked out towards the steps and got the license plate number,” she said.

That license plate number popped up in police records as belonging to another stolen vehicle: a 2013 gray Ford Escape taken out of the parking lot at Bethel United Church of Christ just two days after Christmas.

Church leaders told police the car keys were stolen right out of a church-goer's jacket pocket as it hung on a coat rack outside the worship service.

“It’s just crazy,” Bauer said. “Why are people stealing things out of a church? It`s like a safe place, isn`t it?”

It’s a tale of two connected crimes and two suspects –still on the loose.

“Depraved people that don`t have a lot of respect for their fellow man,” is how Caffey described the people responsible.

“Helping the community,” she continued, “helping each other, making sure that we`re doing the right thing, not just doing what helps us, not just the selfish thing, but the right thing – those are the kinds of things that we should be doing.”

One of the suspects is described as a white male in his 20's, about 6 feet tall wearing a dark hat and hoodie. Police believe he is driving around the stolen gray 2013 Ford Escape with a Missouri license plate. If you see him, call Crime Stoppers at (816) 474-TIPS.