CASPER, Wyo. — Daniel Toomey, Jake Meals and Hunter Lefever are in Wyoming for the first time on an expedition to go bow hunting for elk in the Bighorns. They’re visiting from Butler, Pennsylvania, a town north of Pittsburgh.
However, their trip was nearly ruined after someone stole about $6,000 worth of hunting gear and other equipment that was locked in the back of their pickup while staying at the Days Inn in Casper.
“Well, we got our tags this year and we were planning our first trip out here and were going to head up into the Big Horns later today,” Lefever said on Tuesday, Sept. 15.
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Toomey explained what happened: “I woke up around six o’clock in the morning to go get these guys coffee. I was walking up to the truck and I saw a shoe laying there. ‘That looks a lot like my boot. I hope that’s not my boot.'”
“I walked up and it was my boot. I looked inside [the truck] and find that all of our equipment was gone. It was in the back. It was all locked up.”
Lefever added that all three had checked to make sure the truck was locked on Monday night. Equipment which was stolen included:
- a green custom shooting system compound bow
- another hunting bow
- a case full of arrows
- a release
- a site assembly
- two hunting bags
- spotting scope
- GPS charger
- other items
Meals said the value of all that was stolen adds up to approximately $6,000.
“That’s not stuff that we can really just re-buy here and continue our trip,” he added. “So we got here and we were basically stuck here with no plan, trying to figure it out.”
Fortunately, the three reported the theft to the Casper Police Department. Not only is the department investigating the theft, but they’ve also rallied to help the three salvage their hunting trip.
Officer John Ramsey responded to the report that their truck had been broken into and when he came to investigate he found that is what happened.
“Somebody had pried open the camper cover off the back and took all their high dollar, important equipment ,so they woke up this morning and their day was a little bit wrecked.”
Ramsey then sent out an email to the entire police department letting them know what had happened.
“The whole department receives an email from Officer Ramsey that says, ‘Hey, these kids are out here. They drove 23 hours and they had all their stuff stolen. Can anybody help them?'” Casper PD Public Information Officer Rebekah Ladd explained.
A number of police officers rushed to gather equipment that the three could borrow so they could still complete their hunting trip.
“We have a lot of officers here that actually do guided hunting, kind of on the side, for disabled veterans and that type of thing,” Ladd said. “So they all have a lot of gear of their own. So this has just been a culmination of the last three or four hours of them all running home and grabbing their stuff, just to let you guys use it so you can have a good time while you’re here in Wyoming as an apology for what happened on behalf of the community.”
Others in the community have also shown generosity, such as Sportsman’s Warehouse who donated a gift card after hearing about the theft.
“It means a lot,” Meals said. “Every community has bad people so it’s really nice to see everyone coming together and actually helping us out when stuff goes wrong.”
He added that the speed at which the officers pitched in was impressive.
“Honestly, the turnaround was insane,” Meals said. “Like, we got the call from [Ladd] to come down to the police department. We just happened to be right here. We showed up and then yeah, we have all kinds of stuff to take out and we can actually hunt.”
It is Lefever and Toomey who will be doing the actual hunting as both have licenses for cow elk. Meals, however, won’t be lounging around.
“This is kind of to kick off with our first ever trip out west,” he said. “I’m a digital media major in college so I thought this fit pretty well with that and I have my camera. I was going to record the guys with their elk hunting and make a little movie out of it.”
The three set out on Tuesday evening for the Big Horns but they’ll be back in Casper in five days or so. Ladd says that anyone in the community who would like to make donations to help them on their journey back east can do so by contacting the Casper Police Department.
“If anyone wants to donate things to them for the ride home or whatever reason (clothes, etc.) they can contact CPD on social media or call us at 307-235-7598 and we can help coordinate it,” Ladd said.
The Casper PD’s investigation into the theft is on-going. Ramsey said that while there were cameras at the Days Inn, unfortunately those weren’t pointed in the direction where the truck was parked.
He said that other auto burglaries have been recently reported at hotels around Casper.
The Casper Police Department is also asking that anyone who may have information about the theft contact them at 307-235-7598.