REDDING, Calif. - Stolen property was found in Shasta County thanks to an internet advertisement when the alleged criminal responded Tuesday, hoping to get the reward.
Jeff Thompson is the owner of We Move It in Redding. When an integral piece of his fleet went missing he took matters into his own hands, leading him to a delighted response.
"It's not the large, red trailer that's the issue," said Thompson. "But it's what's inside. It's a hot tub trailer. Everything was stolen."
That trailer is 25 percent of his business. The company has the capability to move hot tubs, and was unable to with the loss of this equipment.
On Jan. 22, Thompson arrived at Hartnell Mini Storage in Redding to find his red trailer was gone. Locked inside was the hot tub dolly.
Thompson waited roughly two weeks before taking to the internet. He posted an advertisement on Craigslist with a plea to those who saw it, and a $500 reward for a safe return.
What he got in response was worth the wait.
"He asked me about my trailer and he goes, 'well I think I have your trailer,'" said Thompson. "He told me about the trailer and some of the unique features and I knew right then it was my trailer."
But something was not right, according to Thompson. He believed he was speaking to the guilty party who was calling for the reward money. He was tipped off that something was strange about this caller.
"He didn't want to leave his name. He didn't want to get involved," Thompson said. "He got scared and said, ‘I'll call you tomorrow with the location of the trailer and you can pick it up' and hung up."
The alleged criminals were looking for a quick money grab. Thompson said they got greedy.
"The first thing I do was call dispatch," said Thompson. "They send out the Sheriff's [deputies] and they catch the guys fleeing. So I was overjoyed."
Deputies said Steven Lee, 44, admitted he was responsible and was arrested.
Thompson is glad life can go on for his company.
"At least we have a part of our business back," Thompson said. "We're able to do business like we did before."
All that property found was returned to Thompson – more than $17,000 worth.