The theft was caught on film although the truck plates were not in view.
The owner of the trailer made a broadcast post on Facebook which quickly spread across the state to hundreds of connected horse people.
Someone made a post on craigslist offering a reward for information leading to the stolen trailer.
I'll leave the rest of it in the words of the trailer's owner about the recovery. Recovery and arrest took less than a week.
Yesterday evening, 8/30/14, I received a phone call from a restricted number telling me he had my trailer. After multiple dropped calls and a return call from a Kentucky number I was told his name was “Johnson Smith” and he had bought my trailer for $900, in Pine Knot, Kentucky, in a parking lot, with no title. Someone had brought our CraigsList ad to his attention and he did not want to get in trouble for having a stolen trailer in his possession. He then told me he was 23, his father was a minister in Carmel, gave me his father’s “phone number” (which was always busy), and said he wanted to do the right thing and return the trailer. Not two seconds later he started saying how he was going to be without a trailer and out of his cash. He wanted his $900 back and he would bring the trailer back up to us. I told him to let me see what I could do and I needed to talk to my husband.
Once I had a legit number I started texting him because I could not understand him very well over the phone and his calls kept dropping. I told him we would scrape the money together, without mentioning how much, and I asked him if he could send me the VIN or photos and then we could meet somewhere. I told him we were willing to drive down there to get it ASAP, we simply needed an address. After 12 hours of vague text message replies and phone calls he said he could not find the VIN, his phone did not send pictures, and I could not get an address from him. I told him let’s just meet somewhere, give me a time a place. He agreed to that as long as I gave him an additional $250 for gas money, which brings the total amount he wanted for returning the trailer up to $1150. I again told him we would cover him, without agreeing on the price.
Now the fun started with trying to nail down a location. His first suggestion was to meet outside of Shelbyville in Decatur County at a truck stop. I told him my female friend and I would be arriving in a white Chevy, my truck is green, and we set a loose time. I then contacted the Sherriff’s department there. I was able to speak to a state police officer during this time who looked up the name I was given and told me the only Johnson Smith in Pine Knot, Kentucky was 15 years old, but the number did go back to a cell phone there. After a couple hours of no replies back I called him and said they were leaving Kentucky, but he had to drop his cousin off so could we meet in the parking lot of Walmart at 38th and Franklin at 10 pm. I agreed and we called IMPD and they sent an officer out to our house so we could explain everything to them.
The plan was, thanks to Thomas, to arrive early and call the police as soon as we saw the trailer pull in to avoid any confrontation. At 9pm myself, Tom, and his military buddy left the house to go look for the trailer. At 11 pm there was still no truck or trailer and after multiple text messages and phone calls the location was changed again to the Wendy’s at 56th and German Church because something was broke on a vehicle. Little did he know this was in our favor because that is where Lawrence PD Thomas works. Once we got to the location there was our trailer! We let Jen and Thomas know it was on site and they called in the cops. We watched from the parking lot next door as they cuffed the two guys and searched their car.
Once Jen and Thomas gave us the all clear we pulled up and spoke with the officers. Mr. Johnson Smith, which wasn’t his real name, tried to tell the officers he only asked for gas money in return for driving the trailer back up to Indiana, not that he had tried to extort an additional $900 from us. He was adamant he deserved money and he was only trying to do the right thing. Once Johnson Smith was uncuffed he tried to approach the truck after Tom and his friend told him not to and let’s just say you don’t breach a perimeter set by Marines. After further discussion myself and the officers did not think he was the one who stole the trailer, but he probably knows who did. I did give him $100 to prevent a civil suit because we did offer a reward for the trailers return, no questions asked on CraigsList. He and his friend were released and the trailer was released to us, but not until after they spun their tires at the guys on the way out of the parking lot. We then went and got celebratory Frostys.
Here is what we found out about Johnson Smith. He gave a fake a name. He had an Indianapolis residence. He had prior convictions. He told the officers he purchased the trailer that morning. His receipt for the trailer contained an imaginary name. He did actually tell the truth about his age. He also planned on meeting two women in an empty parking lot with $1150 in cash, not two Marines and the Lawrence police department. What possessed him to call me I don’t know, but I am glad he did and equally glad I will never know his intentions.
So what did we learn? LOCK YOUR TRAILER AND INSURE YOUR TRAILER FOR THEFT NO MATTER HOW OLD. Don’t steal from a police officer, don’t steal from a Marine, and most importantly don’t steal from internet savvy horse women. We don’t play around. Thank you to everyone who helped with the recovery of the trailer and shared the information on the internet. Remember how important networking is for stolen property and don’t forget what a resource http://www.netposse.com/ is for recovering stolen horses and equipment. They are always in need of volunteers and donations.
Posted on Net Posse