Special to Voice of San Diego

Sunday, March 27, 2005 | Gary Moyer, the managing attorney at the Ferris & Britton business law firm, had his 1977 truck stolen recently near his home in Mission Beach. Twice. In the same day. And he caught the guy who stole it. Each time.

Moyer says he only uses the truck to tow and launch his boat. “The truck was a rust-bucket 15 years ago, and it has been dipped in salt water a hundred million times since. It’s hard to sneak around town in it given its distinctive appearance and the sound generated by its broken muffler,” he said.

At 4 p.m. on a recent Sunday afternoon, Moyer’s neighbor mentioned he saw the truck parked down the street. Moyer checked and sure enough the truck was in this new location.

Moyer looked inside the truck, saw two suitcases, removed them from the truck cabin (evidently the truck thief didn’t want someone stealing his stuff), put them on the curb, and was going to drive the truck home when the police drove by. He explained what happened and told them he was happy simply to have the truck back and didn’t want to launch an investigation and the resulting paperwork about the theft. The police acquiesced and left, but Moyer then discovered he couldn’t get the truck started because the thief had jammed the ignition.

Moyer left with the suitcases on the curb next to the truck. He planned on having the mechanic, whose shop was 50 yards away, fix the ignition the following morning. He solicited assurance from the beer-swilling neighbor in front of whose house the truck was parked that the neighbor would call the police if the thief came back.

By 4:30 p.m., the truck thief came back from surfing, threw his suitcases and surfboard into the back of the truck, and hopped in. He couldn’t get it started so he smashed the wiring harness and hot-wired it, driving off while the beer-swilling neighbor called the police.

By then, Moyer was at Dana Landing checking on how the local fisherman fared when he saw his truck drive by. He quickly jumped into his car and followed the truck while calling his wife with the news. At the time, the police with whom Moyer had originally spoken with were at his house asking his wife Vicki about the “re-stolen” truck. Moyer guided the police helicopter, via his cell phone call and through the officer at his house, to Mariner’s Point Park where the thief parked the truck. When arrested, the thief had marijuana in his pocket and his real name and address on the suitcases.

Moyer hot-wired the truck and drove it home. “The thief wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. He covered about the limit of the truck’s capability in any one trip – about two-and-a-half miles – so he should have stolen a bike instead and simply hidden his suitcases!” he said.

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