Texas thieves abscond with Luverne truck and $17,000 worth of guns and equipment
A Texas hunting trip became a nightmare for Luverne’s Kyle Oldre and his travel companions last week when his truck and their guns and possessions were stolen.
Plans for wild boar hunting were shaping up nicely when Kyle and his son, Knute, arranged to meet Kyle’s father-in-law, Tim Dispanet, in San Antonio where he was visiting his brother, Jim Dispanet.
Kyle’s brother, Keith, would fly in from Philadelphia and they would all stay at a bed and breakfast in Utopia, Texas, near the hunting ranch.
On Thursday, May 26, Kyle and Knute left Luverne with their 2011 Ford F150 pickup loaded with guns and hunting equipment.
Kyle said the trip already started to sour when they found themselves driving through the torrential rains and flooding that hit Texas at that time.
“I was driving through water up to my floor boards,” Kyle said. “When we got to San Antonio, I told Knute, ‘At least the bad stuff is behind us.’ Little did I know we’d be robbed the next day.”
Before meeting the rest of their hunting party, Kyle and Knute took in some tourist attractions in San Antonio — the Riverwalk, Tower of the Americas and the Alamo.
They parked the truck in slot No. 65 in the lot near the Alamo. “I knew I’d remember that, because it’s the year I was born,” Kyle said. “And I parked next to a nice Camaro, so I knew I wouldn’t get door dings.”
Three hours later, they returned to slot No. 65 to find a small Nissan parked where their truck was supposed to be.
“The first thing that came to mind to was to talk to the parking lot folks,” Kyle said. “I paid $15 to park there, so where’s my truck?”
They soon learned the parking managers hadn’t towed their vehicle, and there was no video surveillance to show what had happened.
It became apparent their truck — and $17,500 worth of hunting equipment — had been stolen.
They scratched their heads over how that could happen in broad daylight (between 9 a.m. and noon) along a busy city street with 10 times more traffic than Highway 75 in Luverne.
“And we parked kitty corner from a federal court building,” Kyle said. “If you had asked me where the safest place would be to park, I’d say we were there.”
As they waited for law enforcement to arrive, the reality of their situation sank in. They were 1,000 miles from home with nothing but the clothes on their backs, their billfolds and their cellphones.
“Knute was on the ball; he said the first thing we need to do is get phone chargers because we were going to be making a lot of calls.” Kyle said. “So we went to the CVS and bought two cell phone chargers, notebooks and pens.”
And the phone calls commenced. After calling their insurance company, the rest of the calls were to cancel their trip — to the others in their hunting party, to the bed and breakfast, to the hunting ranch and others.
“There was no way we were going to salvage this trip,” Kyle said.
Along with the truck, thieves made off with 10 guns (four long guns and six handguns), binoculars, range finders, coolers and personal items. “The guns were all under the backseat,” Kyle said. “There’s no way they knew about those until they drove off with them.”
Also in the truck were Knute’s glasses and a week’s supply of daily contact lenses. “Knute said to me, ‘You know Dad, after today I won’t be able to see.’ So we arranged to have glasses made for him in Dallas, where we stopped on the way back.”
Insurance agents sent an Enterprise rental car to pick them up at the Alamo — a Kia Sorrento, a vehicle half the size of the Oldre truck.
“The thing leans when I get into it,” Kyle said. “It’s embarrassing that I have to ride around in that thing with Texas plates for three weeks while the claim is processed.”
While insurance will likely cover a good share of the value of the stolen items, Kyle said there’s sentimental value in one of the guns — a .30-30 lever-action Winchester rifle that belonged to his grandfather.
“It’s one of the only things I had from my grandpa on my mom’s side, and I’ve never had it out of the gun case until now,” Kyle said. “It’s a Model 94 known as western gun — the kind John Wayne carried in ‘True Grit,’ and I figured it would be cool to take this old gun out west.”
While he and Knute made their two-day journey home, they took in some sites, along with shopping to replace stolen clothes and personal items.
“We figured we might as well salvage a little of our vacation,” said Kyle, who returned Tuesday to his job as Rock County Administrator.
But he said there was no chance of staying in Texas.
“We turned right around and went home,” he said. “I wanted to put miles between us as quickly as I could.”
Law enforcement officials have all but said the truck probably won’t be found.
“They figure it went straight to a chop shop,” Kyle said, adding that if anyone did see the theft in progress, it’s likely that no one would come forward.
While the incident has left them shaken and upset, Kyle said he keeps repeating the words of his mother, Joyce Oldre, Luverne:
“At least no one got hurt.”