Helotes couple, friends find stolen RV through Facebook sleuthing

Nathan and Katie Dever’s RV was stolen Monday morning; the suspected thief was in cuffs that night

HELOTES, Texas – A Helotes couple discovered their RV missing Monday morning, but with the help of their friends, found it — and the suspected thief — by that night.

Nathan and Katie Dever left the RV in a parking lot outside of Nathan’s business on FM 1560. Security video showed a man in a pickup truck towing the trailer away in the early morning.

Security video from early Monday morning shows a man in a pickup towing away the Devers' RV (KSAT)

After reporting the theft to Helotes police, the Devers and their friends kept an eye on Facebook Marketplace, waiting to see if anyone would post any of the stolen items from inside the RV.

“That’s generally where somebody is going to, you know, sell something, try to make quick cash,” Katie explained.

The hunch paid off after Katie said one of their friends noticed a post for a folding ladder like the one that was in the RV. The seller, under the profile name of Joseph Whitaker, had also listed a truck that appeared to be the same one from the security video.

The Devers' friend found a Facebook Marketplace post showing the same type of ladder that had been in the stolen RV (KSAT)
The Facebook seller had also listed a truck that appeared to be the same one from the security video (Facebook)

Though the pictures of the truck on Facebook included a clear shot of the license plate, Helotes police said the plates had been stolen, meaning it wouldn’t lead them to the exact address.

However, Facebook Marketplace showed an approximate location on San Antonio’s southwest side, just inside Loop 410.

As a pair of the Devers’ friends drove around the area, hoping to spot the home featured in several of the seller’s photos, Katie found one of the photos had a house number in it.

When their friends went to check it out, they found the Devers’ missing RV sitting in the driveway of a home on Seafarer Drive.

The Devers' friends found their missing RV in the driveway of the Facebook seller's home (KSAT)

“I can’t believe we found this guy and we got this lucky,” Katie said.

At that point, she said she urged their friends to let the police take it from there. Since the home was inside San Antonio city limits, they called San Antonio police.

According to an SAPD incident report, officers found Joseph Whitaker, 43, walking around outside and identified him as the suspect. Whitaker admitted to taking the RV but claimed he had bought it off “Offer Up,” another online marketplace.

Katie scoffed at the explanation.

“He was just picking it up at 3:30, 4:00 in the morning,” she said.

Whitaker was arrested for theft between $2,500 to $30,000 — a felony charge punishable by up to two years in state jail.

Joseph Whitaker, 43, was arrested on a felony theft charge (KSAT)

Helotes Police Sgt. Robert Higgins recommended against people trying to solve their own crimes and said they should never try to confront a thief.

“Definitely with the police helping is always... It will help in the long run for someone not to get hurt. You see, you know, crimes people try to, you know, retrieve their own items. Accidents happen. They get shot. They get stabbed. It’s just, it’s not safe,” Higgins said.

Katie said she’s glad they did the legwork before handing things off to the police.

“And I fully believe that our police department would have, would have done it. But there’s a very small window, right, when something like this happens to be able to get your items back,” she said. “And that’s all we really wanted was to actually get this back in our possession.”

About the Authors:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.

Luis Cienfuegos is a photographer at KSAT 12.