Owner's kill switch mechanism stalls vehicle theft attempt

By: Jason Tarr Email
By: Jason Tarr Email

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WICHITA, Kan. -- The decal on the back of Dennis Roberts' vehicle says it all when it comes to being an owner of a Jeep CJ.

"It says, 'It's a Jeep CJ, You wouldn't understand,'" Roberts said. "We're kind of proud of them."

Roberts, 70, is especially proud of his.

"I can work on that vehicle so it's a fun thing. It's a toy," Roberts said.

But it's much more than a toy. It's become a fixture in his neighborhood along South Chautauqua Street in Wichita.

He normally has it parked in the driveway outside his home.

"Everybody knows his jeep and he's very proud of his jeep," neighbor Bryan Halsey said. "He'll even drive it in in the winter with no doors on it."

So when neighbors saw three young men hop inside and try to start it around Noon Friday, they immediately called Wichita Police.

They also called Dennis.

He arrived home and was surprised to see so many police cars. But he wasn't surprised to see the thieves didn't get much of anywhere with his Jeep.

They had abandoned it in the street right in front of his driveway. Police say they likely left it in gear when they jumped out, causing the car to roll down.

"There was no way power was going to get from the battery to the starter unless I was sitting in it," Roberts said.

That's because a while back, Roberts had decided he wanted some insurance on his pride and joy.

He rigged it with a hidden kill switch-style mechanism.

"There are three things you have to do when you get in the car before the engine will actually fire," Roberts said.

With no way to know that combination, the thieves were stuck. Police say the thieves jumped out of the Jeep and ran. The three teenagers, two 15-year-olds and a 16-year-old, were arrested not long later.

Roberts credits the arrests to the fast work of police and his neighbors.

But he recognizes the kill switch mechanism helped. These days, kill switches can be bought at many automotive stores. He says they're an inexpensive and simple tool he'd recommend to anyone.

"I mean, it's obviously worked for me," Roberts said.

It worked at protecting his Jeep and maybe even at sending a message to other would-be thieves.

"Hopefully, it won't be happening again, at least not in this part of town anyways," Roberts said.

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