NORTH TEXAS (CBSNewsTexas.com) — A North Texas man says when he reported his Chevy Camaro stolen, Dallas PD moved too slow. That's when he became his own detective, embarking on a risky journey to find the vehicle.
The car disappeared on a Sunday evening. Andrew Manes said he ran to the parking garage in downtown Dallas as soon as he received a "broken glass" alert on his phone.
"I was right across the street," he said. "I ran straight there, was there within four minutes and it was gone."
On Monday, Manes found the engine for sale online. On Tuesday, he spotted an ad for his wheels.
"As soon as I saw somebody post a motor that matched with the wheels that matched, I started watching that profile," he said. "I was able to look at everything else they got and track them down that way."
Manes said he posed as an interested buyer and was given an address in Burleson. Excited by the break in his case, Manes says he repeatedly tried to share the information with police.
"I'd gone to the station twice and couldn't get a detective to come out and talk to me," he told CBS News Texas. "[I] actually was asked to leave the police station because I was making such a fuss about not being able to get ahold of the detectives."
According to Manes, the one time he received a call from DPD, he was told to go to Burleson to find the car. In an email, DPD disputes this, telling the I-Team "the victim was not told by Dallas police to meet with the seller."
But that's exactly what Manes did: he drove to Burleson and snapped this photo of his car inside what he believes was a chop shop.
Once he found the car, Manes turned his attention back to the man selling the stolen parts online.
"[I] just let him know the situation, that man-to-man, I'm not looking to cause any problems," said Manes. "We agreed to just get them left in a parking lot."
From Dallas to Burleson, to a gas station parking lot in Arlington, Manes says he's been forced to be his own detective.
"Everything that the cops should have done, I had to do myself," he said. "I had to find the guy; I had to find the parts; I had to go recover the parts."
The Tarrant County Auto Theft Task Force seized Manes' car from the garage in Burleson and brought it to their lot in Fort Worth.
While his case is unusual, the I-Team has interviewed several auto theft victims frustrated by DPD. We took those concerns to police chief Eddie Garcia.
"I want to know what you say to people that are out there complaining," said CBS News Texas' Ginger Allen. "Is DPD responding enough to this problem?"
"Well, I would say we're responding to the problem," explained Garcia. "We may not be responding fast enough."
According to the chief, he's looking at ways to cut down on the time it takes for an officer to make first contact with a victim. However, he's quick to point out that officers must first respond to higher priority calls before property crimes.
Garcia says one of his biggest challenges is a lack of detectives in a department that he says is shrinking, even as Dallas grows.
"Staffing's always an issue, there's no question about it," he said. "The City of Dallas is the ninth largest city in the country and I have about 12 individuals assigned to auto theft."
Twelve people for the more than 15,000 reports filed so far this year.
Police do not recommend doing what Manes did. Manes says he had to, because his insurance policy does not cover theft. Now, he's hoping to find a mechanic who can put the pieces of his beloved Camaro back together.
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