‘Stolen’ trailer incident explained by police
Kirby city officials have responded to social media posts blasting their police department and a towing company after a nonprofit organization’s supply trailer was reported missing and ended up in a tow yard.
On Dec. 5, the rescue organization Hand-Me-Down Hounds reported on Facebook that its trailer had been stolen from inside the Kirby-Bexar Animal Facility on Duffek Drive, behind the Kirby Fire Department. In a local television broadcast, organizers for Hand-Me-Down reported dozens of portable kennels had been stolen with the trailer, hindering an upcoming animal transfer.
Subsequent social media posts blasted the towing company and the city of Kirby police for their responses to the incident. But Kirby Mayor Lisa Pierce and city council members took time during their Dec. 13 council meeting to examine what had occurred and the timeline involved.
The trailer that was reported stolen on Dec. 5 actually turned up in a city alley shortly after noon on Nov. 29, a full week earlier.
Kirby Police Lt. James Laymon showed the city council a video from a police officer’s body cam that detailed the trailer’s discovery on Nov. 29, according to the video time stamp.
A resident on Blue Jay Drive called police to alert them to a trailer found in the alley behind his property, in an alley between Borchers Drive and Boatman Road, four-tenths of a mile from the animal facility.
Laymon narrated the video, which showed officers attend to the trailer, which had no commercial markings or signs of registration anywhere on it. Officers opened the trailer doors to show about seven or eight folded-up dog kennels to the front of the trailer, and a spare tire on the floor in the rear.
Laymon said officers checked to see if anyone had reported any missing property to the city, but there had been none. He said officers checked the vehicle identification number on the trailer, but it came back as unregistered. There was no license plate on the trailer, leaving the officer with little to go on. Because the trailer was blocking a city alleyway in violation of a city ordinance, the trailer was impounded for a code violation and towed by Roadrunner Towing to an impound lot.
“Typically with a registered vehicle we’ll attempt to contact the owner and ask them to retrieve or move it,” Laymon said. “(The trailer) had no plates, it was unregistered, and it was not in our system at all. It did have a VIN plate and the VIN was run, but no registration linked to it.”
Laymon said on Dec. 6, Bexar County officials entered the stolen report “and we got a delayed notification on it … for the fact we ran the trailer and posted the time that the alleged theft occurred,” he said, adding that they were not notified as to who owned the trailer.
“It wasn’t until later in the day that we put 2 and 2 together, about that trailer being related to the alleged theft.”
Laymon said the trailer was found with no external damage, no lock on the doors, and nine dog creates and a spare tire still inside.
He said Hand-Me-Down had contacted Bexar County Sheriff’s Office of the theft Dec. 5. Laymon said Kirby police were not notified of the alleged theft, and were not in contact with Bexar County until Dec. 6 — one day after the theft report was made, and eight days after the trailer was found, cited and impounded.
“That’s a large visible area for it to be sitting. And it took them eight days to realize that wasn’t there?” Kirby Councilman Mike Grant asked.
Social media posts on the Hand-Me-Down Hounds Facebook page reporting the trailer stolen first appeared on the afternoon of Dec. 5, despite the trailer being found in the Kirby alley seven days earlier.
“We had our trailers and all our kennels stolen this week from outside one of the animal shelters we pull from,” Hand-Me-Down Hounds’ original Facebook post stated. An update said the trailer had been found, but was found empty. A second “clarification” stated the organization was told the trailer was empty, but in fact was found with seven kennels inside.
Pierce said the city wanted to clarify that its police force processed the trailer as it would any “found” property before having it towed.
“Since there were such disparaging (social media) comments the integrity of our police department and our city … I just wanted to make sure the council understood the exact chain of events,” she said.
“We had no indication,” Laymon said, “that there was anything further than somebody had left a trailer in the alley. It wasn’t registered, so we had nobody to contact once we found it.”