SAN ANTONIO – He thought it might have been an April Fools' joke when his truck was stolen, but Tommy Bennett got the last laugh after a lucky sighting allowed him to track the truck to a North Side home.
Bennett, the owner of Big Time Automotive, first noticed the Ford F-250 was missing on Friday when he counted the vehicles in the parking lot after arriving at work. He thought an employee might have moved the truck as a joke, but it was gone.
At least it was until Monday afternoon, when Bennett got a call from his employee.
"He says, 'Hey Tommy, it looks like your truck is right here,'" Bennett recalled. "I says, 'Where?' 'On the highway.' So when he said it, we looked up and my truck was going down (Interstate) 35."
Bennett jumped into the vehicle he had been in the middle of showing to a customer and followed. He said he called 911 but was told the truck had to have stopped before police could do anything.
So the car dealer kept up his pursuit. Bennett said he and his employee followed the truck for about an hour until it led them to a home in the 14500 block of Sacred.
When the people in the truck looked like they were about to leave, Bennett said he blocked the truck with his vehicle and got out with his .45-caliber Beretta on his hip.
Bennett said the three believed he was a police officer and put their hands on the truck.
"I informed them I was not a policeman. I'm the guy ... I own that truck you stole," he said.
When police arrived, they also found a stolen U-Haul pickup truck and were led to a nearby U-Haul box truck reported stolen out of New Braunfels.
Carlton Barney and Timothy Bunch were both charged with theft of a vehicle. Barney was also charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle and fraudulent use or possession of identifying information.
SAPD also reported the F-250 and U-Haul pickup had “miscellaneous property that did not belong to the owner of the vehicles' owners." A department spokesman said they're trying to track down the property's owner(s), and it was not clear if the property was stolen.
Bennett said he got his truck back with different tires on it, the radio missing, another dealer's plates and 1,400 more miles on the odometer. Still, he got it back.
"The way I did it, to me it was great because I got it back," he said. "I didn't have to wait for San Antonio to do it for me. I did it, and they finished it up for me. So that was a good thing."