BULAN — Vicco resident Elmer Jent is glad to have his vehicle back this week, only a few days after it was stolen from a church parking lot.
Jent had gone to church at the Vicco Church of God Sunday evening, and when he came out his Jeep Grand Cherokee was gone. He said that he didn’t initially suspect that it had been stolen.
“I thought maybe my daughter had come and got it,” he said. “I had left the keys in the trunk.”
Jent added that later he never expected to see his Jeep again, and this week had even begun looking for a new car.
But things took a turn on Tuesday when Jent’s niece, Melissa Coleman, had just picked up her son, Zeb Sayed, from school Tuesday afternoon. That’s when she saw a vehicle she recognized.
“We were behind it and I said, that looks like Elmer’s vehicle,” Coleman said.
“I told her to call Elmer,” Sayed added.
Once she got on the phone with her uncle, Coleman was able to identify the Jeep by the tires and sticker from the dealership. She followed the vehicle to the Bulan Meats and Grocery store where two people got out of the Jeep and walked inside. Coleman went in after them to try to keep them from leaving.
“I ran in the store and was like, nobody is going anywhere,” she said. “This is a stolen vehicle.”
The man, who has not yet been identified by police, fled the scene and ran across the nearby train tracks, Coleman said. The female, who was later identified as 37-year-old Darlene Neace, said that she would give Coleman the keys.
“She came out and was like, let me get my purse,” said Coleman. “She got her purse and I was like, just give me the keys.”
Neace then exited the store and ran into Hardburly, where she was later apprehended. She is currently lodged in the Kentucky River Regional Jail on one count of receiving stolen property over $10,000.
Several deputies with the Perry County Sheriff’s Office quickly arrived on the scene and took statements and began a search for the man who had fled the scene.
Troopers with the Kentucky State Police, who were investigating the vehicle theft on Sunday, also confirmed that the Jeep was the missing vehicle. Once the Jeep was opened, police say several items that were believed to be stolen were found in the back, including a radio that appeared to have been cut from a car, floor mats, and a steering wheel cover.
Jent, meanwhile, said he was happy to have his Jeep back and did not see any apparent damage to it.