Archive for Wednesday, October 25, 2000

Caught on satellite

Modern technology tracks wild trip through Leavenworth County

October 25, 2000

Stealing vehicles is risky business X particularly when the vehicle is equipped with a satellite-tracking device.

Early Wednesday, a 2000 Chevy Tahoe was stolen in Lawrence.

Burdel Welsh, Leavenworth County undersheriff, said the car had been parked in a garage and the keys had been in it. The owners soon noticed the cars disappearance and reported it to police, Welsh said.

The Tahoe was equipped with a satellite tracking system, Welch said. So they called the company that handles it and they activated the tracking system.

Within minutes, the stolen vehicle was located west of Tonganoxie near the intersection of Kansas Highway 16 and County Road 4.

The tracking system showed the vehicle moving at 3:40 a.m. toward Reno.

About 3:50 a.m., Tom and Carrie Grinter, who live about a mile south of Reno, near U.S. Highway 24-40 and County Road 27, heard their dog barking. They looked out the window and saw tail lights of a car driving away. Later they learned her husbands billfold had been taken from their vehicle.

They didnt park in our yard, Carrie Grinter said. They parked off on the little country road and walked into our driveway. They got into my husbands car and got his billfold out of there.

The vehicle was unlocked, but the keys were not in it, she said.

There was no cash in the wallet, and Grinter said she later received notification from the Lawrence Police Department that her husbands wallet, which held credit cards and hunting licenses, had not been recovered.

From there, the vehicle headed north. Tonganoxie police were waiting.

They got up in this area and the Tonganoxie Police Department took out after them, Welsh said.

As officers pursued, the Tahoe headed east on U.S. Highway 24-40, and turned south on 206th Street. It then turned into Joe Bogards driveway, about a block south of 24-40.

We were sound asleep, Bogard said. Chris heard a bang and got up and looked out the window and saw all the police lights in the yard.

We saw that they had come off 206th Street, crashed through our fence in the front yard, cut ruts in our yard and went out the back fence, Bogard said.

Recalling that the night had been foggy, Bogard said he thought the vehicle must have had good headlights.

He just missed my propane tank, Bogard said. He went right between the tank and the trees.

From there, the vehicle traveled through several yards and ended up in a pond behind the home of Bill and Barbara Hardisty on Sandusky Road.

It was just extremely shallow and the guy probably wasnt in more than six to 12 inches of water, Barbara Hardisty said. I think what happened is that all of a sudden his headlights were in water and he screeched on his breaks and stopped and got out and ran.

Hardisty slept through the racket, but her neighbor didnt. His dogs were barking and woke him up, Hardisty said.

From the Hardisty pond, the suspect or suspects headed south, Welsh said.

South of Evans Road and north of Honeycreek Road on 214th Street, a 1992 Acura belonging to Mark Elston was stolen.

Lori Elston and her husband had been awake through the night.

But we didnt hear a thing, she said.

Taken with the car were items inside the vehicle, including $650 cash and a $6,488 cashiers check, Elston said.

Thursday evening, the Elstons received a call from a Topeka woman who said her daughter had found Elstons Social Security card and other items in a ditch. The cashiers check was located, but the cash was gone, Elston said.

Then Friday at 1:30 a.m., we got a call from the Lawrence Police Department, she said. The two suspects were found driving in our car and then they wrecked into another car and fled again.

Charles Yates, a Leavenworth County Sheriffs Department sergeant, said the Elston vehicle had been entered into the national crime information computer.

Around midnight on Oct. 18, the Lawrence Police Department officer saw Elstons vehicle turn directly in front of another vehicle in the city, Yates said. The officer attempted to stop it, there was a short pursuit. The suspects ended up being involved in an accident and they fled on foot.

The suspects have not been located, Yates said.

During last Wednesdays chase, a Kansas Highway Patrol helicopter and a Leavenworth County K-9 unit assisted.

The dog tracked the trail south to Sandusky, Welsh said. We found a shirt on a fence, there was heavy fog and everything around us was wet, but the shirt was dry.

This was the first time the sheriffs department has searched for a stolen vehicle equipped with a tracking system, Sheriff Herb Nye said.

If he hadnt had a tracking device, the guy would have already been through the county and we would never have known it, Nye said.

Leonard Collins, a salesman at Crown Chevrolet, Lawrence, said the cars specialized equipment is known as Onstar.

Its an in-vehicle communications system service that includes a global positioning system, Collins said. It can track you.

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