Vance West is a veteran and father of three who lives alone on his more than 100-acre cattle ranch, unafraid to defend his property. West tells KY3 that he recently brandished his pistol to ward off three thieves who came back to his farm after previously stealing nearly $3,000 worth of equipment from one of his sheds.
“He started climbing over the gate, and I told him not to climb over. He climbed over anyway, so I pulled a gun on him,” West said of his second encounter with a pack of bandits at his farm in a remote area of Missouri outside Bois d'Arc.
“I told him, ‘Do you see where it's cocked?’ He says, ‘I can see,’” West told KY3. “He was sassy. He told me he wasn't going to do it.”
"See, there's where they left," West said pointing out tire tracks during a KY3 report. After scaring the thieves away, the veteran says he ran to the country road outside his farm to try and flag down someone to help, but the criminals got away.
All on his own, West is confident that the crooks will return again.
West's experience was just one of a growing number of burglaries in rural areas of Green County that caused Sheriff Jim Arnott to create a temporary task force to investigate the uptick in crime.
“It was a short term project but we feel it was very successful,” said Arnott told KY3.
The Springfield News-Leader reports that since the burglary task force was set up in mid-January, two dozen suspects were arrested. The unit implemented electronic signs on country roads warning residents of areas affected by thieves, and gathered intelligence on 30 people suspected of being involved in burglaries.
While successful in the short term, Sheriff Arnott tells KY3 that the program was unfortunately discontinued for the county did not have the manpower to keep deputies operating on special assignment. The Sheriff told the station that if voters next month approve a half-percent sales tax for law enforcement needs in Greene County, he will be able to hire more patrol deputies for rural areas of the county.
Task force or not, West is still keeping an eye out and ready to defend his land.
“I have no respect for a thief. I have no respect for them,” West told KY3. “They work harder at that than they would a job.
“I hope I could catch them one more time – one!”
Video of West from KY3.