JEFFERSON COUNTY — A shooting in a Jefferson County driveway caught on video early Friday prompted a warning from law enforcement about a trend of coordinated and armed thieves stealing from cars in the area’s subdivisions.
The shooting happened about 1 a.m. Friday in a neighborhood on Seckman Road near the Mastodon State Historic Site in Imperial when homeowner Terry Logan, 41, got an alert from his home security system that someone was outside.
“My mind immediately went to my girlfriend, my 3-year-old daughter and my 14-year-old daughter who were home,” Logan said.
Logan then got a handgun from his mantel and went outside, where he saw a man checking his car handles.
“You picked the wrong (expletive) house, my man!” Logan yells in the video while pointing his gun at the man. “I suggest you get on the (expletive) ground.”
The man makes what sounds like a bird call, then fires three rounds from his own gun as a vehicle pulls up, authorities said. He then gets inside and the car drives off.
The incident is the most serious outcome yet in a trend of coordinated thefts from vehicles that started in Jefferson County in July, Sheriff Dave Marshak said Monday.
Since then, the sheriff’s office has gotten sometimes multiple calls a week for strings of thefts from unlocked vehicles in subdivisions along Seckman Road, South Old Highway 141 and off Highway M, among other areas.
The sheriff’s office has been able to track at least 40 successful thefts to groups coming to Jefferson County from St. Louis and north St. Louis County, and suspects dozens more may be connected to the groups, Marshak said. He did not specify how investigators determined where the thieves were coming from, but said he was not speculating: His department has found at least two or three coordinated groups that have driven into the county repeatedly to steal from unlocked cars.
“We’re making it easy for them,” Marshak said, adding that the thieves have made off with firearms, credit cards, checks and purses in the thefts. No arrests have been made, but the sheriff said his office has identified suspects.
Marshak said Friday’s shooting shows how theft from cars has gotten more serious than it once was in Jefferson County and surrounding areas, changing from a random crime to an organized one.
He warned residents to lock their cars and call the sheriff’s office if they spot someone checking car doors in neighborhoods.
Marshak also warned residents to be careful if they encounter the thieves.
“If they’re willing to produce a firearm, take aim and attempt to murder someone, this is serious business,” he said. “And we want to make sure our community is aware.”
The homeowner, Logan, said Monday that if the bullet had gone just a few inches higher it would have hit him.
He said he has heard some questions about why he risked pulling his gun and confronting the man, but he said he was afraid and didn’t see any choice but to defend his family.
“I didn’t expect to get shot at,” he said. “So I’m just glad today that I’m alive.”