by Ivan Foley
An Arizona man who stole a travel trailer and parked it near a creek in an isolated area in Platte City only to have it pictured on the front page of The Landmark has pled guilty to stealing and has been ordered to five years in prison.
Jeremy D. Anders, 41, who has ties to Platte County but lists an address of San Tan Valley, Az., entered a guilty plea last week in front of Judge James Van Amburg. In addition to the five years in prison, the court has also ordered Anders to pay $3,020 in restitution to the owner of the travel trailer.
Anders had been held in the Platte County Jail since early September on $10,000 cash-only bond.
A reader who had seen the front page of the July 18 Landmark thought she recognized the travel-trailer pictured under the headline “Strange scene near creek.” She contacted the newspaper a few days after that edition had hit the streets.
The story detailed how an SUV pulling a travel trailer sat near the bank of a creek behind Kossen Body Shop in Platte City near the intersection of Second St. and Hwy. 92, in a wooded area about 40-50 yards off the road and hidden from view from the streets.
Platte City police had told The Landmark they believed that the SUV had mechanical trouble coming down a hill and ended up on the edge of the creek.
But Landmark photos from the scene seemed to indicate there was more to it than that. The awning of the travel trailer was in a set position, indicating someone was encamped at the location. At the rear of the travel trailer, accessories such as an inflatable mattress were hanging from the top rear corner of the camper, not likely to have ended up there in a traffic accident.
After running the photo on the front page and being contacted by the woman, the newspaper reported her suspicions to Platte City police via email, and return calls from Chief Carl Mitchell and Lt. Al Devalkenaere followed.
Devalkenaere later confirmed the trailer was the one stolen from the property near Green Hills Road, Kansas City in Platte County.
Devalkenaere said when Kansas City police took the family’s report on the stolen camper, there was a failure by Kansas City police to get the stolen camper information entered into the computer system, so it did not show up as stolen when Platte City police initially ran the VIN/identifying information.
The owners of the travel trailer told The Landmark their insurance company declared the trailer a total loss and placed a value of $6,100 on the trailer. Numerous items were also missing from inside the trailer, with a value of those items listed at $2,500, according to court documents.