MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A little detective work and social media helped a Memphis businessman track down his stolen food truck just hours after it was taken from his gas station in Whitehaven.
Sam El Mouchantaf said the truck was stolen from the parking lot of his Exxon Hop In on Elvis Presley Boulevard early Wednesday morning, and it was all captured on the store’s surveillance cameras.
Mouchataf owns the truck but leases it to Hattie’s Tamales.
“That is my living. That’s how we started the gas station over here. That is the one thing that kept the gas station working. When we took the business, it wasn’t a very good business,” said El Mouchantaf
El Mouchantaf said after the truck was taken he didn’t wait for police to find the truck; instead he began doing his own detective work and turned to Facebook for help.
“When the tamale guy called me and said ‘where is the trailer?’ and I said it was stolen, and he said ‘OK, I’ve got a Facebook page’ and I said ‘OK, let’s put it on the Facebook,'” said El Mouchantaf.
He said after they posted the pictures they began getting calls from people who had seen the red trailer, and within three hours he had located the stolen food truck, still attached to a car, in front of a home on Gausco about two miles from his store.
“We called police, and they came and took care of everything,” said El Mouchantaf.
Police arrested Anita Defell and her husband Larry Smith, who lived at the home.
Officers said Smith tried to escape through the attic of the home into a vacant duplex next door, but he fell through the ceiling of that unit. They found him hiding in a cabinet under the kitchen sink.
Police said they also discovered the couple was stealing utilities and cable. They are charged with theft of property and theft of services.
El Mouchantaf said he was thankful for the people who reached out and helped him find his trailer.