KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The widow of a fallen sheriff’s deputy and her kids got a piece of their loved one back. Their purple Jeep with a special memorial on the side was stolen.
FOX4 was there Friday as the investigation unfolded. Officers moved quickly following a tip to find the Jeep in Independence.
The purple SUV was originally stolen in Kansas City, near Front Street and Chouteau Trafficway. It happened while a family member was working.
Family describes the vehicle as more than a Jeep; it was a lifeline after losing Wyandotte County Dep. Patrick Rohrer in the line of duty. Then someone stole it.
“I cried when I found out about it because it does represent in some way a part of Patrick with me,” Sarah Rohrer said, “and now once again, that’s been stolen from me.”
But the stolen Jeep is back home where it belongs Friday with Rohrer and her family.
“Just thank you,” Rohrer said.
“Yay!” son Connor Rohrer said.
Sarah and her kids, Emma and Connor, bought the Jeep after her husband was shot and killed in the line of duty.
Sarah said her late husband went to K-State, and his dream vehicle was a purple jeep. Plum Crazy, the vehicle’s name, drove in and offered a path to healing.
It took them a year to find, but Connor was smiling ear to ear the day they got it.
“We drove around in it the day we got it. I was just so happy,” Connor said. “I lost all hope when it was lost.”
It was also a way to honor Patrick. They decorated it with decals and dedicated it to dad.
“It means to me almost everything,” Emma said. “I’ve always wanted to go out driving with it, off-roading with it.”
The Jeep was supposed to be passed down to Emma.
At about 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Sarah’s husband, Matthew Hoctel, was working and walked across the street. He left the Jeep running with the flashers on, and a thief stole it with what he said was about $9,000 worth of tools and equipment inside.
FOX4 was there when Hoctel got the call that Plum Crazy was found in Independence.
“You are a lifesaver,” Hoctel said on the phone.
Shawn Goetz and his son made the spot.
“I’m just glad that we found it and, you know, hopefully there isn’t too much damage,” Goetz said, “and we’ll keep doing our part as the community, keeping our eyes open and help the community as best we can.”
The windshield is cracked, and the sides have been painted black. Hoctel said thieves trashed it, and the only thing left inside is a laptop. Now, they’re seeing if it’s safe to drive.
But they’re glad this purple piece of their heart found its way back home.
“I know it’s going to need work to be put back in the state that it was in, but all that can be fixed,” Sarah said.
The Jeep was found parked outside an abandoned house. Police said they don’t have suspect information to share at this time.
If you know anything, call the TIPS hotline at 816-474-8477. All tips are anonymous.