White Bluff business owner helps track down auto thieves

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WHITE BLUFF, Tenn. (WKRN) – A White Bluff business owner has his stolen truck back thanks in large part to his friends, his family and a police department an hour away from where the crime happened.

It all began early Friday morning.

Suveillance footage from the FST restoration company on Highway 47 shows a shirtless man riding his bike onto the property at around 3:30 a.m.

David Sokol owns and operates FST restoration. He said he didn’t realize his dually pick up truck was stolen for several hours.

“I was sick to my stomach,” he said.

Sokol played the video from his car lot that showed the shirtless man, now identified as Michael Minton, 26, riding the bike next to a van and then looking into vehicles.

Minton tried to get into a locked corvette, then entered another vehicle, going through the center console.

Ultimately, the video shows Minton walking across the lot, getting into Sokol’s 2001 F-350. Sokol says the truck was unlocked, but the thief used a screw driver to hot wire the 60-year-old’s vehicle.

“My blood was boiling,” the business owner said while watching the video.

Sokol called the authorities, but he also has a strong network of friends and family. He posted that his truck was stolen on Facebook and asked the community for help and leads.

The community responded in a big way, not only calling in tips, but actually driving around looking for the stolen pick up.

According to Sokol, over the next few days his friends and family saw the stolen truck multiple times, but by the time they realize what was happening the truck was gone.

“A lot of people do care what we do here. A lot of personal friends were out there looking for this vehicle,” Sokol said.

Sokol provided News 2 with multiple videos of his stolen truck. A cell phone video shows the truck driving by, pulling a trailer in Charlotte in Dickson County.

Surveillance video shows it driving by in Cheatham County, carrying what Sokol says is stolen property in the back.

According to Sokol, this story gets even crazier after Minton allegedly used Sokol’s own Facebook wanted picture of the stolen truck to advertise that the truck’s $3,500 wheels are now for sale for $500.

Sokol put out word through a third party that he wanted to buy the wheels. To keep the thieves off balance, Sokol says he concocted a story that the buyer was a lawn crew that would be working in Hendersonville Monday.

According to Sokol, once the deal was confirmed, Hendersonville police were notified and a take down strategy was devised.

News 2 has obtained video showing the truck arriving at a discreet apartment complex.

Investigators say Michael Minton was driving and Eric Hensley, 29, was in the passenger seat.

The truck drove to a dead end parking spot and within moments, police units converged.

Video shows Commander Scott Ryan arresting Hensley who quickly surrendered. Minton ran for it but was quickly captured.

According to police, the duo drove the stolen truck to sell wheels with a stolen motorcycle out of Cheatham County in the back.

According to Sokol, the truck had a lot of damage.

Sokol tells News 2 he always zeroes his tripometer when he parks, and when he got the truck back it indicated the truck had traveled 600 miles in the four days since it had been stolen.

“They were out joy riding and stealing more stuff,” Sokol said disgustedly.

Both men are charged with drugs and thefts in multiple counties across Middle Tennessee.

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