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01-02-13, 11:53 AM #1
Homeowner sees theft of his trailer while flying overheadTurns out the pilot of the single-engine Cessna was the home owner who just happened to be flying by when he spotted the theft in progress."We watched him just walk out right in front of us," David Zehntner, the homeowner, recounted Tuesday. "Two or three times, he literally looked up at us. At one point, he even stood with his hands on his hips and looked up at us."
"My wife says, 'Honey, there's somebody at our house. There's a truck parked in our driveway,'" Zehntner said.Zehntner dropped the plane to 300 feet and buzzed their ranch home."We see this guy walking around our house looking in windows, checking the doors, scoping the house out," he said. "And it wasn't anybody we knew."The man then picked up a 6-foot-by-12-foot red utility trailer that was parked outside the house, set it on the bumper hitch to a pickup truck, hooked it up and drove off, Zehntner said."My wife kept saying, 'Land, land,'" he said.But Zehntner couldn't land; there was no airport nearby."I said, 'Honey, he's not going to get away. There's no way he's going to get away.'"Zehntner followed the truck and trailer the seven miles into town."At no point did he act like he made any correlation -- like, 'Wait a minute, this guy is following me,'" Zehntner said.At one point, the truck stopped at a red light in front of the police station, but Zehntner could do nothing.He had a cell phone, but the prop noise would have drowned out any attempt at conversation.When the truck pulled onto State Road 80 headed west out of Labelle, Zehntner made a quick landing and called the Hendry County 911 dispatcher, who put out a be-on-the-lookout call for the silver truck with a white top pulling a stolen trailer.Within half an hour, he got a call from deputies flying a helicopter in nearby Lee County and gave them a description of the vehicle."They said, 'I think we've got him. Hold on. Somebody will call you back shortly.'"Some five minutes later, a Lee County deputy sheriff called and asked for a description of the man. That was easy, since the view from 300 feet had been clear: Handlebar mustache, 6-foot tall, medium build.A few minutes later, he got another call asking him to drive over to where they had stopped the truck on I-75 heading into Charlotte County and verify that the trailer was his.Police said they had found guns inside the truck and wanted to know whether they were Zehntner's, he said.They were not."We went back, recovered our trailer; they impounded his truck, took him to the Charlotte County Jail and we took our trailer home -- and we were happy," Zehntner said.
Zehntner said he was elated with the way the system worked."I hear people all the time say there's never a cop around when you need one," he said. "I just want people to know that, when I needed one, there was a bunch around and they did an excellent job."
01-03-13, 12:13 AM #2
Being in the right place at the right time is priceless.\\` ` ` ` < ` )___/\
`` ` ` ` (3--(____)
"...but to forget your duck, of course, means you're really screwed." - Gary Larson
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