SATSUMA, Ala. (WALA) – A man’s truck, dogs, and pistol were stolen Tuesday morning, June 17, in Satsuma, but were all recovered within hours thanks to GPS trackers on the dogs, and some police work between two different agencies across different counties.
It all started when dog-owner Richard Waldrop stopped at a gas station in Satsuma after a hunting trip with his full-breed hunting dogs in northern Mobile County.
Waldrop told FOX10 he stopped to buy a couple things, and left his truck running while he went in.
Police said 26-year-old Eric Hilderbrand, of Attalla, Ala., approached Waldrop at the front door of the gas station, and asked him to give him a ride to Gulf Shores. Waldrop told FOX10 he said no to Hilderbrand, and went inside the store.
After being inside for only just a couple of minutes, making a purchase, Waldrop said he came back outside, and his car was gone.
That’s when Waldrop said he called police and decided to use the dog’s GPS tracking collars to find out their location.
“I got his long range antenna, got his handheld GPS, and I started going toward Gulf Shores, because I had a feeling that’s where he was at,” explained Waldrop.
Once Waldrop got to Foley to use the GPS tracker, he told FOX10 News he got a call from someone who had found the dogs on East Beach Boulevard in Gulf Shores.
Waldrop said he immediately called Gulf Shores Police, and officers went to work to find his dogs.
Police said it didn’t take much time before officers had found the dogs, the stolen vehicle, the pistol inside the vehicle, and the suspect, Eric Hilderbrand, who had allegedly abandoned the truck and dogs as soon as he got to Gulf Shores.
Waldrop said the hunting dogs are like children to him, pricing at some $15,000. He was glad to get them back.
“They are just dogs to some people, (but) they’re not just dogs to me,” said Waldrop, “I’m going to be honest with you, I never thought I would see (those) dogs again.”
Satsuma Police said Eric Hilderbrand confessed to the crime. He faces one charge of first degree Theft of Property.