Cherokee County Sheriff David Groves says this case is a reminder of how bold criminals can get.
"Unfortunately, we've been seeing a little bit more of that here recently," says Groves. "This was a daytime theft, which isn't necessarily uncommon, but just their willingness to confront a property owner."
Investigators say a pickup truck and a Corvette were stolen from a rural property on NE Scammon Road, near Weir. Deputies say three days later, the same thieves returned and stole another pickup truck, but not without a fight that could have turned much worse.
"They ended up struggling over a gun," says Groves.
Investigators say the property owner took his gun and confronted two suspects.
"Fortunately, no one was hurt because there was definitely potential there," says Groves.
Deputies say the suspects left with the other stolen pickup loaded on a trailer. Social media and the internet was buzzing with that happened and a description of the suspects.
"We're very fortunate to be able to have that tool available to us, but even more so fortunate to have citizens that use it and are on the look-out and they're our eyes and ears out there," says Groves. "It's a great partnership we have with the community."
Deputies says three days after the second theft, a tip from a resident in Galena led law enforcement to a home, where they recovered one of the pickup trucks and arrested a Joplin man with a known criminal history.
"He was found to be in possession of it. Certainly, investigators interviewed him. I wouldn't want to go into details of what he said or didn't say," says Groves.
Over the next nine days, the other two vehicles were recovered at places deputies say the arrested Joplin man visited frequently. One was an area near Riverton, and the other was a home, also near Riverton, that may lead to more arrests.
"We do believe that property owner is connected. There is a connection," says Groves.
Groves says though more criminals may be showing boldness, Cherokee County is still showing vigilance.
The arrested Joplin man has already bonded out, per guidelines set by the state and a judge, and the prosecutor's office has not yet filed charges against him.
KOAM - Licensed to Pittsburg, Kansas