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Neighbors take action to get back their stolen stuff

The owners of an SUV, a truck and a trailer loaded with three dirt bikes detained a suspect and located the truck by airplane. (Photo: Andrew Adams, KSL TV)

DRAPER – When a Draper neighborhood was hit last Friday morning by a crime spree neighbors took to social media for help in locating their stolen stuff, including a truck with a new trailer containing dirt bikes, as well as a Range Rover. KSL-TV caught up with the families as they worked to recover their stolen property. 

How the crime spree started

Matt Kennedy’s truck and trailer, as well as David Milne’s Range Rover, were caught on surveillance cameras about the same time being driven away. Several vehicles had been broken into in the neighborhood that night.

The detective work

Two of the families in the Draper neighborhood had their vehicles stolen, a Range Rover and a truck. The Kennedys and the Milnes teamed up as neighbors to get their stolen stuff back. 

The families posted their stolen vehicles on social media and asked for tips, which led to a tip that the truck had been spotted in Eagle Mountain. The two husbands headed there to see if they could spot the truck.

They got lucky, they ran right into one of the alleged thieves walking along the road and offered him a ride. What tipped them off was, he was wearing the truck owner’s hat. Not just any hat, a hat that had Kennedy’s company logo on it. 

“He was wearing our company hat,” Kennedy said. “He said, ‘I’m just going up to Smith’s and I said, ‘Well hop in,’ and ‘Where did you get that hat?’ And he got in the car and said, ‘A friend gave it to me’ — which is strike one.”

Milne said that they told the suspect that their vehicles had been stolen and he went silent. Shortly after he fled the vehicle. The men flagged down a Lehi police officer that pursued the suspect and caught him. Police later identified him as Austin Russell, 26.

Police told Kennedy they were already looking for Russell because of reports he was engaged in drug activity in the stolen truck. 

Russell was booked into the Utah County jail for numerous charges, including suspicion of an accident involving property damage, criminal trespass, failure to respond to an officer’s signal to stop, failure to stop at the command of a law enforcement officer, possession of a controlled substance, unlawful control of vehicle with damage over $500, and use or possession of drug paraphernalia.

“It’s a very low probability that ever works out like that again,” said David Milne, the owner of the Range Rover. The Range Rover was recovered early Sunday morning after it was spotted and then police say it was used to evade authorities.

As of now, there are no suspects in custody in the stolen Range Rover case. 

Eyes above recover stolen stuff below

A friend gave Kennedy a plane ride over the weekend to look for his stolen truck, which they located. Monday afternoon he took another plane ride to search for the stolen trailer. His wife Melanie, on the ground, found the trailer, with the Kennedy’s dirt bikes still inside, first near where their truck reportedly hit a mailbox. 

What the neighbors learned

The neighbors are grateful to the police for their efforts to get back their stolen stuff, but they know it can take more than the police to get the job done.

“You need to be your own advocate,” said Brooke Milne, David’s wife. “You can’t leave it just up to the police. Police don’t have enough resources to get the end result you might want.”

Both families are grateful to law enforcement as well as neighbors that helped along the way.

Where the cases stand now

West Valley Police say they have turned the case over to detectives and they are processing prints found in the Range Rover for a lead to the suspect that was driving the vehicle. 

Draper Police, where the crime spree began, say they are still investigating.