There’s an escalating war on vehicle owners in Kansas City as the criminal justice system does little to stop it.
Just this week, authorities say some 40 vehicles were broken into late Monday into Tuesday in Grandview on the Missouri side, with clothes, guns and money taken. Then, on Wednesday morning, over 70 auto owners in south Overland Park awakened to find their vehicles burglarized.
Overland Park Police spokesperson John Lacey told the media it appears to be a roving, organized ring of car burglars and thieves: “At least six, even probably 10 people going from car to car, breaking windows, looking inside, things of that sort.”
Kirk Mata, for one, isn’t surprised by the rash of break-ins – and may have a clue from his own experience as to why it’s happening. Less than three years ago, the Kansas City, Kansas business owner caught a brazen burglar breaking into and damaging every vehicle on his commercial lot.
“He’d seen me and was pulling the slide back on his gun and was going to shoot me,” Mata told The Heartlander. Luckily, Mata is a black belt instructor in jujitsu, and managed to disarm the burglar with a swift kick and hold him for police.
Yet on Thursday, Mata said he’s not aware that the May 2019 suspect was ever prosecuted by Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree’s office. “As far as I know, no. Never prosecuted. (The case) went almost to the end, and all of a sudden it just disappeared.” As for DA Dupree, Mata says, “He’s just lenient. I don’t know why.”
The suspect in that case, Mata said, had a litany of prior charges, including for home invasion, and was on release from a felony conviction the day he broke into Mata’s lot.
“It’s just endless. Yeah, ridiculous,” Mata said of the repeating crime waves. “These prosecutors just aren’t prosecuting the cases. So, there’s no penalties for these guys.”
Indeed, Mata has been the victim of other break-ins since 2019, including one just this month. In one case, the suspects had been driving around in a Ford Explorer with no front end, and an upside-down license plate registered in Mexico hanging off the back, Mata said.
Vehicle break-ins, Mata says, have become a national problem with a helping hand from the federal government: a wide-open border over which flows all manner of drugs that are fueling such crimes.
“There’s just so much meth coming across that border, and fentanyl now. These guys get this meth so cheap, that it’s ‘go out and steal and get high, go out and steal and get high.’ And then there’s no penalties, so what discourages them? Most of them just get kicked back to the street.”