Heroes and Villains

Dec. 6, 2022
Forces of good and evil are battling for control of our streets

With Hurricane Ian barreling down on Florida, a stock car racer locked his race cars in a trailer to keep them safe, and then headed for higher ground.

While Jeff Stalnaker’s hometown of Ocala, FL, was spared by Ian, the trailer storing his thunder stock and street stock race cars still managed to disappear.

Rather than wait for police, Stalnaker started doing his own detective work. First he found security camera footage of the theft and posted it on Facebook.

The footage showed the thief hitching Stalnaker’s trailer to their own truck and driving off. Several locals responded to the post saying that they recognized the thief’s truck as belonging to Alex Herring.

Stalnaker did some more research and found where Herring worked and contacted his boss. The boss explained that the truck used in the robbery was owned by his business and therefore had GPS tracking enabled.

After reviewing the tracking data, Stalnaker discovered that the truck had driven to an abandoned sand pit on Herring’s job site in the middle of the night—the same night that Stalnaker’s trailer was stolen.

Stalnaker then convinced Herring’s boss to help him set a trap. The boss told Herring that the police knew that he stole the trailer, but that he would get off with a lighter punishment if he returned the stolen goods.

That night Herring went to the dig site with an excavator and spent 6 hours digging in the sand. 

Stalnaker followed him using the GPS tracking, and hid in a nearby forest. Once he saw his cars emerge from the sand pit, he called 911. 

Herring was arrested, but unfortunately the cars were not salvageable. They were stacked on their sides in the sand pit, one on top of the other, and then crushed under 15 feet of sand. Everything from the engines, frames, wheels, suspension, and even the seats was wrecked. 

Stalnaker says that he has received tremendous support from the racing community, with several teams reaching out to offer parts and even cars to help him get back on the track. 

However Stalnaker is considering pursuing a new career as a private detective.

Gucci Gucci Goo

A thief in Memphis, TN, was much happier with his haul after breaking into just one car in a suburban neighborhood this fall.

The thief happened upon a car that contained several credit cards, a $500 ring, and a Gucci diaper bag worth $1,400.

Amazed by what the car owner left sitting in their vehicle, the thief returned three days later to see if the car had been restocked. 

This second attempt was unsuccessful, but police were able to collect some shadowy neighborhood surveillance footage, revealing the burglar to be a male with two arms and two legs wearing clothes.

When the theft was reported to police, including the value of the stolen diaper bag, officers sat the car owner down and explained that they had actually been robbed twice.

Real life hero

A Pennsylvania man who often pretends to be a superhero became one for real in September. 

Timothy White was driving to a grocery store in Harrisburg, PA, when he noticed a man behind the wheel of an oncoming pickup truck who appeared to be asleep.

White, who likes to dress up as Captain America for comic book conventions throughout the year, felt his hero instincts kick in. 

“Immediately my body was like, ‘I need to go save this guy,’” White told Pennlive.com.

White quickly pulled over and began sprinting — in loafers — more than a half dozen blocks to catch up with the truck, which was bouncing off traffic signs and telephone poles. 

White dove in through the open driver side window, over the driver, and forced the truck’s gear shift into park before calling 911. 

Police suspected the driver was suffering from diabetic shock, and he was taken to the hospital for treatment.

With the crisis averted, White quickly reverted to his everyday alter ego. 

“I went back to doing what I was doing,” he said. “I was going to the store to get some soap.” R&B

About the Author

David Matthews

David Matthews has been chronicling the unexpectedly humorous side of transportation news for his Roads Report column since 2000. The stories are all true.

Sponsored Recommendations

The Science Behind Sustainable Concrete Sealing Solutions

Extend the lifespan and durability of any concrete. PoreShield is a USDA BioPreferred product and is approved for residential, commercial, and industrial use. It works great above...

Proven Concrete Protection That’s Safe & Sustainable

Real-life DOT field tests and university researchers have found that PoreShieldTM lasts for 10+ years and extends the life of concrete.

Revolutionizing Concrete Protection - A Sustainable Solution for Lasting Durability

The concrete at the Indiana State Fairgrounds & Event Center is subject to several potential sources of damage including livestock biowaste, food/beverage waste, and freeze/thaw...

The Future of Concrete Preservation

PoreShield is a cost-effective, nontoxic alternative to traditional concrete sealers. It works differently, absorbing deep into the concrete pores to block damage from salt ions...