The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Joplin Metro

February 2, 2009

Victim spots, nabs suspected car thief

By Jeff Lehr

A Joplin man who was the victim of not one, but two, car thefts over the weekend found some consolation when he spotted one of them Sunday on 32nd Street and helped capture the suspected thief who was driving it.

Kevin Russell said he never noticed that his family’s 2002 Mitsubishi Montero and 1995 BMW 325i were missing from their residence at 616 S. Sergeant Ave. until about noon Saturday.

“I think everybody in our neighborhood has had their cars broken into,” Russell told the Globe in a telephone interview Monday. “But nobody’s had their car stolen.”

By the time he realized that his cars were gone, someone had been repeatedly using a bank debit card from his wallet, which Russell thinks he may have left in the Montero, to make several purchases at stores around town. His bank notified him of the activity, and he canceled the card.

He also filed a police report. But the charges that had been made on his card prompted him to begin a little detective work of his own Saturday by going to Wal-Mart and the various convenience stores where the card was used to let them know about the fraud and the times of purchases, which his bank provided.

Russell contacted his bank’s fraud division again Sunday and was told that someone had tried to use the card twice more after it had been canceled but had failed. While driving around Joplin in his father-in-law’s car Sunday afternoon in an effort to determine where those failed attempts took place, Russell happened to spot his Montero headed in the opposite direction from him on 32nd Street.

Russell, a financial adviser with a Joplin investment firm, said he turned around and followed the vehicle into the lot of a business at 1221 E. 32nd St. while trying to call police. When he pulled up behind the Montero so the driver could not drive off, the suspect got out and started to run. Russell said he aborted his call to police and shouted for bystanders to make the call as he gave pursuit.

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