KCK mechanic loses $20K worth of tools in theft

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- A mechanic from KCK said his small auto repair shop was broken into during the weekend, and thieves made off with thousands of dollars in tools. Now, his very livelihood is threatened.

When James Luke arrived at his auto repair garage in KCK on Sunday morning, he couldn't believe his eyes. He's owned J.L. Auto Repair since the early 1990s, and he was stunned to see criminal had broken in and stolen nearly $20,000 in tools.

“The door was shut and appeared to be secure,” Luke explained to FOX 4 News.

But when he looked more closely, Luke found his broken padlock on the ground. That's when he called the police.

“I was devastated. I was afraid when I went in there, it was going to be an empty building,” Luke said.

When KCK Police searched inside the building on Minnesota Avenue, the bill really started to add up, as Luke discovered more and more things had been stolen.

“They helped themselves to every ratchet wrench that was in these drawers here,” Luke said, pointing to his toolbox. “All my air tools were gone.”

Luke estimates the heist cost him $20,000 in tools and high-performance drag racing parts -- money he doesn't have.

“I don't have any insurance of any kind,” Luke said.

The hardest part for Luke is the potential of the culprit being someone he knows. The crooks seemed to pass over new tools in favor of high-dollar items.

“It's sad that I've been here this long, and made all kinds of friends and customers, and it comes to this. Somebody came in here and plotted and planned this out and carried through with it,” Luke said.

Luke's family members detailed the loss on Stolen KC, a Facebook page where crime victims can spread the word of their stolen items. Luke even discovered an oil-soaked footprint in the garage. His sister, Barbara Kelly, said it's been James's dream to own his own auto repair shop.

“His wife works, but this is their main source of income,” Kelly said. “The two of them together are doing fine, but if he can't work, it's going to be a hardship.”

Luke also said he will soon install a security system to keep his business safe from future trouble. In the meantime, anyone who can help police get to the bottom of this, is urged to contact Kansas City Kansas Police.

Kansas City Crime Stoppers will also take your call. That non-profit group wants only information, and not your name. Their phone number is 816-474-8477 (TIPS).

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