A View to a Heist
Returning from a week at his North Carolina vacation home, David Zehntner, 56, eased his Cessna 182 into a slow circle over his sprawling 40-acre ranch in LaBelle, Florida, preparing to land with his wife, Berna, by his side.
As the plane buzzed over their house, Berna peered out the window. “Honey, there’s a truck in our driveway,” she said into her headset. Then they watched a stranger walk up to their front door.
Zehntner made a second pass. The man was now walking around the house, peeking in windows. At one point, he looked up at the low-flying Cessna. Back at the driveway, he quickly hooked the Zehntners’ $1,200 trailer to his silver truck and took off down the road. “I can’t believe he’s actually doing this right in front of us,” Zehntner cried.
Determined to catch the thief, Zehntner tracked the truck as it rattled through the small town of LaBelle and then headed west toward Fort Myers. Then he landed at the LaBelle airport, jumped out of the plane, and called 911.
After his detailed description, local police were able to apprehend the suspect—and the stolen trailer—in about half an hour. The thief is awaiting trial.
Zehntner still can’t believe he witnessed the whole thing by air. “The odds of something like this happening are so astronomical,” he says. “The police wanted me to buy them a lottery ticket.”
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