When someone steals from you and you don’t know who, you can feel helpless. Your only option is to file some sort of police report and try to find your stolen items, but many times they’re gone for good.
Unless you’re Cody Detwiler of the WhistlinDiesel YouTube channel.
Most of Detwiler’s videos involve risky stunts with trucks, but in a video he recently uploaded, he explained how shortly after buying a new rural property, equipment disappeared from his storage containers. Three compound bows, a leaf blower and three tailgates went missing first.
Detwiler had installed three cameras near the entrance of his property in Rutherford County, Tennessee: Two were clearly visible, and the third was in the tree aiming down at the road.
He started getting notifications and checked to see an older man wearing a medical mask while spray-painting the two visible cameras, apparently unaware that he was being recorded the whole time.
Sixty seconds later, a truck drove by. A short while later, a Toyota 4Runner pulled into the property and left after 10 minutes, the remaining camera catching the thief as he pulled away. The back of his 4Runner was loaded down with more of Detwiler’s stuff.
Detwiler had also bought a bunch of Apple AirTags, which are locator devices that most people put on things like keyrings in case they are lost. Detwiler hid the AirTags on his ATV and a few other select items that he thought might be most tantalizing to the thief.
But before the thief had a chance to strike again, Detwiler found a neighboring house that had both the truck and 4Runner in what he called “Unconventional Ways of Finding People,” and he was sure he’d located the culprit.
Once he found the thief’s house, he did everything above-board. Initially, when informing the sheriff’s office of the theft, he was encouraged to file a report and wait. But Detwiler wanted swifter action, so he did the sleuthing himself, compiled the evidence, parked outside the potential thief’s property and called the authorities.
“I have pictures of him driving in, and then coming out 10 minutes later with a bunch of my stuff in the back of his car,” he explained when the sheriff’s office asked what evidence he had. “And we just found out where he lives.”
“So you’ve gone over to the residence?” the person on the other end of the line asked.
Detwiler was careful to explain that he was on the road, not the property, and deputies were soon on their way. When they arrived, he showed them the photos he had, gave them the details and then held back respectfully while the authorities went and talked to the man and woman who came out of the house.
After quite a bit of back-and-forth, the older man at the house refused to admit that he was the thief. His wife didn’t appear to know anything about the situation. The deputies agreed with Detwiler that the evidence seemed to point to this property, but they’d need to get a warrant.
The whole time, Detwiler was out watching the confrontation take place and providing amusing commentary.
Twenty minutes later, the authorities had the warrant and made quick work of finding the stolen items in the man’s shop.
Even though Detwiler repeatedly called the thief’s actions “stupid,” he was careful to protect the thief’s family’s identity. He maintained that he just wanted his property back and didn’t want to press charges.
As the missing items were loaded into the back of Detwiler’s truck, a deputy asked what he “wanted to do” about the damaged cameras and the entire incident. Detwiler said if he could get $1,400 cash to cover the cost of his cameras, he’d call it good.
The thief himself finally spoke to Detwiler, admitting there was no excuse but saying that he’d had something to drink and stealing made him feel like a kid again. He said the door on the storage containers was open and he thought the property had been abandoned.
Eventually, the wife brought out the $1,400 cash. Detwiler accepted it and counted it — but then handed it right back.
“You’re not gonna steal again,” Detwiler said as the thief balked about keeping the cash. “You’re not gonna steal again. Fine. Keep it. I — no, no hard feelings.”
Everyone was shocked at the generous turn, but perhaps the cash, grace, the wife’s shock and humble pie were more effective than pressing charges — though Detwiler said if the man tried a similar stunt again, he would press charges.
The full video, posted Dec. 21, is a little over 20 minutes long but highlights a clever serving of justice and unexpected kindness.
It’s pretty clear that the man’s “mistake” wasn’t really one, as later on he admitted he’d seen Detwiler’s videos, but Detwiler chose to let him off the hook anyway.
“We all make mistakes, but for your own sake. Please stop stealing from me,” WhistlinDiesel captioned the video. “I will catch you every time and you will personally help load my stuff back up. As for this case we’ve resolved the matter and I’d appreciate if everyone respects them as we all make mistakes.
“And dude… please take your wife out to dinner. She deserves it.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.