A man whose WWII Jeep was stolen from the Walmart parking lot in August says the Parker Police Department recovered the vehicle Sept. 8.
More information will be released later this week.
>>>Originally POSTED Sept. 7<<<</p>
It has been more than two weeks since Malachi Springer’s most prized possession was taken away.
The Parker resident spent countless hours personalizing a vintage World War II Jeep that has become a familiar sight around town. He bought the durable olive-green Jeep five years ago and has judiciously tracked down original parts and accessories that have made the vehicle one of a kind.
But on Aug. 19, the Jeep was stolen from the Walmart parking lot in Parker while Springer was inside working. Surveillance cameras captured images of the thieves and their vehicle, but the Parker police thus far have been unable to track down the suspects. The pictures are too grainy to make out the license plate number, and detectives were able to gather only a vague description of the four people in the video.
Springer, however, is not ready to give up hope on reuniting with his beloved 1942 machine. He has “put the heat” on the perpetrators by contacting metro Denver media and teaming up with the police, who have put the call out to other agencies to be on the lookout for the Jeep, which is made more distinctive with stickers that read “Max” and “OD Honey.” Springer also has made the theft known on vintage military forums, and scoured Craigslist and eBay to see if someone is listing individual parts.
Word about the crime has spread around Parker.
“I have random customers come up to me to see if I found it yet,” he said. “(The story has) touched more people than I thought it would.”
The publicity has generated a few leads, including possible sightings of the Jeep in Aurora and Lakewood, but the vehicle vacated the areas by the time law enforcement responded. A friend, unaware that it had been stolen the day before, saw someone driving the Jeep on Interstate 25 on Aug. 20.
Springer is still optimistic that his “war buggy,” a moniker stenciled on the side, will be found before a mid-September car show in which he planned to put it on display. He often shows up wearing an original G.I. uniform, with World War II memorabilia in tow.
“I like to make it look like it’s coming straight from the battlefield,” Springer said.
The Chaparral High School graduate is unsure whether the thieves loaded the vehicle on a trailer or figured out a way to start it, but he believes it’s being kept out of sight in a garage so it doesn’t attract attention.
Springer says he caught a male teen who matches the description of one of the suspects on the surveillance video shoplifting cigarettes minutes before the Jeep went missing. The teen ran from the store before he could be caught. Springer described him as under 6 feet, with “skinny jeans, skater shoes” with bright orange accents, a gray hoodie, blue baseball hat, dark hair and a dark complexion.
On the video, the two teens are seen examining the vehicle before a man and woman arrive and move it into a shadowed area of the Walmart parking lot. Springer says he missed catching the thieves by minutes.
“It had only been gone for 10 minutes when I went out on my last break,” he said. “I had it parked right outside the front doors, right under a light.”
Springer is trying to convince authorities to use a forensic imaging company that can enhance the surveillance video and determine a license plate number, but has not received word on whether such measures will be approved by police officials.
Anyone with information about the missing Jeep should call Detective Shannon Brukbacher at 303-805-6523 or e-mail Springer at email@example.com.