Criminals mess with Kansas Highway Patrol vehicles

TOPEKA (KSNT)- Kansas Highway Patrol troopers are on high alert lately, cracking down on speeders, texters, and lug nut thieves.

For Mark Quintana, a mechanic at Shorey Automotive, he says somebody messing with lug nuts is not an act that should be taken lightly, “Your tire isn’t being held to the vehicle,” Quintana said. “So consequently in very short order you can lose a tire.”

A situation that can be deadly, but when it comes to someone purposely tampering with lug nuts. It might sound crazy to most, but for the Kansas Highway Patrol it’s exactly what happened to their vehicles, “When it happens again it does make you nervous because obviously there was some intent there,” Lt. Josh Kellerman said.

Two KHP Tahoe’s were parked at the Salina training facility sometime between Monday, April 20 and Friday, April 24, when their lug nuts were tampered with, “One of them was actually in his car driving up to the gas pumps we have out there and he just actually heard some noises, so when he jumped out got out his car you know he was looking around the wheels and he noticed his two lug nuts missing,” Kellerman said.

And in some cases all of the lug nuts were gone, “They would’ve have been moving, the tires and wheels would’ve been moving on the studs so there wouldn’t have been any stability to that front end,” Quintana said.

So why would criminals do such a thing?

“I can’t see any other reason, other than to sabotage the vehicles,” Quintana said.

Kansas Highway Patrol agrees, but thinks there’s a big message for other agencies to take note of, “We want to let our law enforcement partner know, ‘Hey!’ this happened to us it very well could happen to you,’” Kellerman said, and that’s why they went public what they see, is an act of sabotage.

Kellerman also said because of the area where the vehicles were tampered with was not monitored by surveillance video, they are relying on the public for help in cracking this case.

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