A Bakersfield man thought his truck and cell phone were gone for good after they were stolen from a parking lot. But he decided to do his own detective work to track them both down.
John Autry was at the Grenadier Lounge in the College Shopping Center on Columbus Street three weeks ago playing in a weekly pool tournament. When he came out to leave, his truck was gone and his cell phone was inside.
Autry is never too far from his white Chevrolet Silverado and cell phone. "This is my livelihood. This is my job," Autry explained.
Autry is a mechanic who works out of his truck. Last month, he left it in a parking lot and someone stole it. "I ran up the hill and called police and from there they start searching," he continued.
As police started searching, Autry started his own investigation. Autry's wife called his cell phone and someone answered. "How come you have my husband's phone and you stole his truck? He said I don't have your truck but I have your phone. Give me 30 bucks and I'll give it back to you," said Autry.
Autry's wife asked the man to bring the phone to a nearby convenience store. Autry not only got his phone back the day after it was stolen. Security video at the cash register caught a shot of the suspected thief. "He should know there's camera there. Not a very bright guy," said Autry.
Police used the video to track down 21-year-old Harry Gamotan Monday. "He was involved in a family peace disturbance and during that argument, one of the family members said they had seen him on television. When the officers questioned him, he admitted he was the person in the video," said Sgt. Mary DeGeare, Bakersfield Police Department.
Autry's persistence paid off in another way several days after he got his phone back. Autry called one of his friends to be on the lookout for his truck with nearly instant results.
"Five minutes later he calls me up and says John I'm behind your truck. You gotta be kidding me?" he explained.
The driver, 42-year-old David Valenzuela was arrested under the new Mohawk Bridge after he led police on a short chase. Autry's truck was trashed and $2,000 worth of tools were gone. The pictures in his cell phone had been deleted.