A burglary at the old Discoveryland site turned a training exercise into real-life crime tracking Wednesday for Tulsa County Law Enforcement.
The burglary suspects allegedly busted through a fence with a vehicle and stole a truck and tractor from the site on August 31, 2016, workers said. They also left behind tire tracks.
Coincidentally, some of the area’s best law enforcement trackers were in the middle of a 40-hour specialized training course in the exact area with the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office.
The team then got authorization to turn the exercise into a real-life investigation, which has never happened before, said Tulsa County Sheriff's Deputy Michael Bonin.
“What these guys are skilled at are the tracks that most people would miss - not only that but they are able to piece that together and produce a track picture of entry and exit points and activities while on a crime scene themselves,” Bonin said.
While the tracking team was on the ground, the property owners flew over the area in a private plane and spotted their stolen truck in a Sand Springs neighborhood.
The trackers then jumped into action and went to check it out.
”Of course, he was not expecting that, so we had a very sudden and startled reaction from him,” Bonin said.
The man then ran into a wooded area, but the trackers again followed his tracks and they led them to a house.
“There were several pieces of evidence that were on the outskirts of this residence that confirmed that this is where this guy is at,” Bonin said.
Bonin said the man escaped – but left clues behind that helped the trackers identify him.
Proof that the classes are working, investigators said.
“We're getting to see first-hand that the training we're providing is benefiting these officers in the field,” Bonin said.
And in turn -- keeping Tulsa County safer. The owners of Discoveryland are offering a $2,000 reward for the return of the tractor.