What started as a simple favor to a young man turned into a crime that outraged a community. As soon as we aired a gas station surveillance video clearly showing the theft, countless people started responding on our website and Facebook pages. Fort Wayne Police Detective Scott Morales saw the story and asked the Waynedale Marathon for a copy of the tape. Through some good old fashioned police work and an anonymous tip, Morales tracked the suspect to Tennessee. He then placed a phone call to the 22-year-old to let him know, he was busted.
"he was a little nervous and I told him I had him ID'd and you need to make this right", said Detective Morales.
Morales used resources available to his department along with the excellent video and help from Glenbrook Dodge to eliminate all trucks in Allen County. The anonymous tip led him to a name and eventually to Facebook where he matched the pictures to the video he obtained. Detective Morales asked the man to return Jackie Tyner's $50 and write her a letter of apology. A relieved Tyner shared that letter with us this week.
"I'm sorry that I stole from you, I don't know why I did it and I want to return the money I took", said part of the note read by Tyner.
A viewer even sent us cash in the mail to give to Tyner after seeing the story and we presented that to her. She said she's grateful for all the efforts and was glad to receive an apology from the young man.
"I don't feel as harsh about him now, I hope it taught him a lesson and he'll never do this again", said Tyner.
For Detective Morales, having an 85-year-old Mother was even more motivation to find the suspect, be he said the real hero is Owner Bret Bair, who not only came to us with the video, but also helped police along the way.
"I think it's great how this turned out, the public was angry and really came together to help this woman out", said Bair.
It turns out the young man from Tennessee was visiting nearby family when he stopped by the Wayndale Marathon in January. Since he did what police asked, he won't be facing any charges, so we've decided not to release his name. However, he hopefully learned a valuable lesson not only about his own behavior, but also about persistence of the Fort Wayne community.
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