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Living in Ocala, Florida, with Hurricane Ian barreling down, the last thing you’re thinking about is car theft. Jeff Stalnaker made sure his two dirt track race cars were secure from wind and rain before heading for higher ground. Luckily, Ocala escaped Ian’s wrath. But the race cars and trailer were not there when he returned. They had been stolen. Stalnaker was bound and determined to get them both back

Why did the alleged thief need to bury the stolen cars?

Buried race cars
Buried race cars | Stalnaker

After piecing together how and why this happened, it appears that the alleged thief, Alex Sloane Herring, stole the trailer. But rather than finding sellable treasures inside, he faced two race cars. Fencing stolen race car parts aren’t easy, and you’ve got to dismantle the car first. It’s all too difficult and time-consuming for an alleged thief to deal with. So, according to The Drive, he buried them instead.

But you need a place to bury them, and something to dig a big enough hole. Herring was lucky here. He had recently snagged a construction job after release from prison on probation for car grand theft. The job site had an abandoned sand pit, and there was also an excavator just sitting there. In the middle of the night that Ian struck, he took the trailer to the site, used the excavator to dig one big hole, and buried both cars, on top of the other. 

However, this story is far from over. The trailer and race cars were at Stainaker’s shop. Surveillance cameras caught footage of the truck Herring allegedly used in the theft. Stalnaker posted the footage on social media asking for help identifying it.

How did the stolen car’s owner find the alleged thief?

Buried race cars
Buried race cars | Stalnaker

He received quite a few responses, all leading to the contractor at the job site. The truck Herring used belonged to his company. So Stainaker told the boss his suspicions, and he agreed to help. 

It so happens that because it is the contractor’s truck, it has GPS tracking. Analyzing the data showed that the night Hurricane Ian hit, the truck was driven to the sand pit. The contractor called Herring and told him the police knew he stole the trailer and race cars. He suggested Herring return everything and that would help.

So he went back to the site and spent the night digging up the race cars buried in the 15-foot deep pit. But Stalnaker was watching. Once he could identify the stolen cars, he called the police. 

Are the race cars salvageable?

Buried race cars
Buried race cars | Stalnaker

Herring had just spent six months in prison for grand theft. With a prior history of stealing trailers, he’s being held without bond. He faces three counts of grand theft for the two cars and the trailer. There are also charges of two counts of criminal mischief, one count of tampering with evidence, one count of carrying a concealed firearm without a permit, one count of resisting arrest, and a parole violation. 

As for the race cars, they’re now junk. Stacking the cars didn’t help. The weight of the sand and the excavator on top of them squashed the cars. Buried so deep, they also were sitting in water for four days.

The good news is that friends and even racing competitors have offered to help with parts and donations. Stalnaker estimates that including the tools left in the trailer, he’s out about $200,000. But he plans on racing again.


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