Tulsa Police Pilot Recovers Stolen Storm Shelter Equipment
TULSA, Oklahoma - When thieves took a local storm shelter company's equipment, it threatened the business at its busiest time of year.
But a heads-up police helicopter pilot, who is a News On 6 viewer, saw our story a couple of weeks ago and spotted the storm shelter equipment from up above.
The Tulsa Police helicopter isn't just used to track suspects.
Sometimes while in the air, helicopter pilots look in wooded areas, where thieves might be hiding things.
"A lot of time we find stolen vehicles, equipment, stuff like that," TPD helicopter pilot Officer Tim Ward said.
While in the air on another assignment, Ward saw something in a wooded area near 46th and Trenton.
"It was pretty obvious it didn't belong there," Ward said.
Two weeks ago, thieves took equipment from Milton Odom's business "Down Under Shelters."
It is everything he needs to install underground shelters: His truck, an excavator, trailer and specialized equipment used to haul cement and dirt.
Since then, he's had to rent or find replacement equipment.
But Ward saw our story on News on 6.
"I just remember seeing the pictures and stuff like that, and I immediately recognized it being his equipment from what I saw," he said.
The equipment was hidden under a canopy of trees.
Because the area is on a dead-end road and the brush is so thick, that stolen equipment could have been stashed there for quite some time and no one would have ever noticed it, but police believe the thieves would have likely come back at some point to get the stolen stuff.
"That equipment would have never been found had it not been from an aerial viewpoint," Ward said.
Some of the equipment has heavy damage. The thieves even painted over reflectors and lettering on the trailer to try to hide and disguise it.
"I would wish they could still get caught," Odom said. "Maybe the truck will be found somewhere and they could still be caught."
And even if they aren't caught, at least they won't profit from the theft, thanks to officers watching from above.
"Guy put the two and two together with the newscast and the other and that was really sharp on their part," Odom said.
Insurance had already paid on most of the equipment.
But Odom's trailer wasn't insured, so he says it's nice getting it back.