Neighbors Help Locate Thief Suspect Following Crime Spree In Draper
Jun 13, 2020, 9:54 AM | Updated: Nov 2, 2022, 6:25 pm
DRAPER, Utah — After thousands of dollars from vehicles and property were stolen from a Draper neighborhood, homeowners decided to aid in the investigation. Their diligence led them to the suspected thief.
“Our kids woke up this morning, and we had to tell them the dirt bikes, the trailer, the truck — they were all gone,” Melanie Kennedy said. “With the world being so restless right now and emotional, it’s easy to feel vulnerable and worried.”
Kennedy shared surveillance video that showed her truck — which was connected to a new enclosed trailer, holding three motorcycles — being broken into and driven off her property.
“This criminal knew what they were doing,” Kennedy said. “We have the Ford Pass Mobility App, so we can track our truck. The thief disabled that device immediately.”
A few houses down, at the Milne residence, Draper City Police said the thief stole an unlocked Range Rover Evoque.
“We decided to use social media to our own benefit to catch these guys because it was really scary to watch them hit house after house in our neighborhood,” Brooke Milne said. “We’re not going to sit back and be victims.”
After filing police reports and calling insurance companies, David Milne and Matt Kennedy took action.
“The public wants to help. On Facebook, someone notified us that a truck with my description had rammed into a mailbox in Eagle Mountain, so we headed down that way,” Matt Kennedy said.
David and Matt spoke with some Utah County sheriff deputies during their search.
The deputies suggested they head down Five-Mile Road because it’s a popular area for dirt bikes and ATVs. As the two men headed back, they noticed a man walking alone on the empty stretch of road. Something about the man caught Matt’s eye.
“Wait! That’s my company‘s logo,” Matt said. “He’s got my company hat on. I was piecing it together. He had taken that hat from my stolen truck, and now he was wearing it.”
Matt works at Acima Credit which has a unique, recognizable logo.
The two offered the man a ride.
“I yelled, ‘hey where are you going?’ And he responded that he needed a lift to get a drink at the Smith’s or the nearest gas station,” Matt said.
David and Matt had successfully found the man that police would later book into the Utah County Jail in connection to stealing their vehicles.
“He was sitting in the backseat showing no emotion when David mentioned we were out looking for our stolen property,” Matt said.
Matt pulled over to the side of the road to call his wife and have her alert police officers to meet them at the nearby Maverick gas station.
Officers were waiting. The suspect, later identified from booking documents as 27-year-old Austin Russell of American Fork, fled from police.
“These police officers we met today were incredible,” David Milne said. “The pursuing officer chased the suspect, jumped four fences and caught him. Excellent police work.”
According to jail records, Russell was previously arrested on March 3, 2020, for stealing another person’s identity documents.
He referenced his shirt that read, ‘The Ridge Boys’ — a phrase many in that Draper neighborhood know as a group that looks out for each other.
“We have a great neighborhood,” David Milne said.
And then he added a word to the accused, “You shouldn’t have taken that hat, bro.”
“The suspect is in custody. Now we just need to find the goods,” Kennedy said.