A suspect is in custody and a GoFundMe has been created to help the racing family
With Hurricane Ian on the way, racer Jeff Stalnaker Jr locked his race cars in the hauler. That 44′ trailer was then stolen on Friday morning in Ocala, Florida with two racecars inside and thousands in spare parts.
View the photos of the buried racecars below.
Jeff Stalnaker Jr posted on social media, “Please be on the look out! These 2 cars were stolen inside my 44’ enclosed sometime between Tuesday night and Friday morning!”
Surveillance video caught the man hooking up a truck to the gooseneck trailer and pulling away. Screenshots of the video were posted online with a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
The family posted screenshots of the man, “This is the piece of shit that stole our shit!”
The thief then buried both race cars, tools and parts in a sand pit. To make matters worse, the cars were buried below the water table and soaked in water.
The families ran their own investigation and they were able to retrieve the cars.
Racing family conducts their own investigation
The video footage of the thief went viral. Calls from the community pointed the family in the correct direction to solve the crime themselves.
A multitude of calls led Jeff Stalnaker Jr and family to believe Alex Herring may have been the man in the video footage. Stalnaker Jr was able to locate Herring’s employer. As he spoke to his boss, it was hinted that the truck in the video could be a work truck.
Herring’s employer allowed Stalnaker Jr to come check out the truck which was at a work site. It was determined that the truck was the exact truck seen in the surveillance video. The work truck used in the crime also happened to be fitted with a GPS tracking device.
Herring’s boss helped the family gather that GPS data. They realized the truck had visited a sand pit on a work site in the middle of the night, during a hurricane no less.
The boss gave Herring a call and told him the family knew it was him who stole the trailer. He then requested that Herring himself return to the jobsite to dig all the equipment back up. The Stalnaker sat in the woods and watched.
As soon as Herring got deep enough to reach the cars, the police were called.
Jeff Stalnaker Jr and family comment throughout the discovery
The racers have since dug up their stolen cars, parts and pieces estimated around $200,000. And most of it is badly damaged and now unusable.
When the cars were buried, they were first stacked on top of each other. Add several feet of sand and several thousand pounds crushed the cars.
“So how was your Sunday?? Mine was great.. going on 30 hrs straight no sleep watching this guy dig up my cars and all my parts!! Moral of this story be careful who you steal from! I may not have gotten them back the way I wanted but in the end this son of bitch is going away for awhile.. just call me Sherlock Holmes!”
Jeff Stalnaker added, “On another note.. the outpouring help our family was given by the racing community is unbeleivable!! To the ones who stayed and helped, I won’t name your names to keep it silent, I love u guys like family! You all are amazing!”
Brandie Stalnaker posted images after the cars were recovered. She stated, “Aftermath. What kind of human does this? This is heartbreaking for our family.”
Alex Herring charged
The suspect was already on probation for a separate crime.
Alex Herring is in police custody and has been charged with the crime. He’s being held without bond.
A full list of charges:
Herring is now charged with three counts of grand theft auto, two of criminal mischief, one count of tampering with evidence, one count of resisting arrest, one count of violating his parole and one count of carrying a concealed firearm without a license.
Helping the family rebuild
This story has since gone viral, even catching the eye of NASCAR’s Dale Earnhardt Jr.
A Go Fund Me page has been created by Brandie Stalnaker to help fund the team’s efforts to get back on the track.
The Go Fund Me states, “After this chain of events, Jeff completely gave up on himself and his racing. His dreams were destroyed.”
“But this community is not going to let that happen. Its time to help build this dream back! We cannot let this tragedy, stop not only Jeffs dreams, but the entire Stalnaker families dream of doing what they love, and that’s Racing.”
“The outpour of love and support that he has already received from all over, is absolutely amazing to see.”
“Jeff is a HUGE giver in the racing community and in the Marion County community, many times without anyone knowing all that he does to support others.”
“Jeff is a selfless leader, that works hard to do for others and to help others build their dreams.”
“IT’S TIME TO HELP JEFF AND STALNAKER RACING RE-BUILD what they have lost.”