Text messages, Facebook post help catch alleged dump truck thief

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UPDATE (July 17, 2019) -- Casey Warren pleaded guilty to auto theft and operating a vehicle after being a habitual traffic offender. He was sentenced to a total of 5 years of supervised probation.

MUNCIE, Ind -- A construction company project manager says text messages, a Facebook post and quick reaction from his employees helped catch a man accused of stealing a dump truck from his Muncie work site over the weekend.

Jacob Case, Project Manager with United Construction Services, says a mechanic was working on some equipment late Saturday morning at the Kitselman Pure Energy Park work site on East Jackson Street when suddenly something wasn’t right.

“And he’s there working, and he heard the truck fire up and pull out of the job site,” Case said. “By time he got out from underneath the equipment, the truck was already gone.”

At first, Case says, the mechanic didn’t know if the truck was supposed to be leaving the site or not.

“So he started making some phone calls, to see if the truck was being stolen or if it was being taken to be used somewhere else,” Case said.

Now, he says, the truck was definitely being stolen by somebody. So, Case quickly got to work on his smart phone.

“We put a post on Facebook with a picture of the truck, told everybody to look out for it in the Muncie area,” Case said. “That and we texted all of our employees who live in the area.”

As luck would have it, a United Construction Services employee was nearby, eating with his wife near the corner of Broadway and McGalliard Rd. on the north end of Muncie. The employee began following the truck across town while calling police and telling them where the truck was located.

Police were able to stop the truck as it neared the Muncie bypass. On the scene, officers arrested 32-year-old Casey Warren on preliminary felony charges of auto theft, and operating a vehicle as a habitual offender. Warren, who has a long criminal history, had alcohol in his system, according to court records.

Casey Warren, 32, was arrested on preliminary charges of auto theft, and operating a vehicle as a habitual offender.

“He told the police he knew how to drive trucks, and that’s why he took it,” Case said. “Because he knew how to drive it and he figured he’d get away with it.”

Case says losing the truck would have hurt his company and the project it was stationed at. He says older trucks like it are often targeted by thieves.

“They’ll part it out, take it and sell it to somebody that needs that part for an older truck and take the rest of it and just scrap it,” he said.

Case said most of his newer trucks are equipped with GPS tracking on board. Now, he plans to install GPS tracking on his older trucks as well.

After a brief detour around Muncie, the dump truck was back on the job site after being turned back over to United Construction Services. Case credits quick reaction and the power of social media for keeping it that way.

They used to say you can’t outrun a police radio. Nowadays, it seems you can’t outrun text messaging and Facebook posts.

“With Facebook and social media, that and text messages, you can spread the word, heck, on anything quick,” Case said.

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