A man has pleaded no contest to charges that he was the mastermind behind dozens of tire and wheel thefts throughout the metro. Thomas Leuck managed to evade authorities for months, frustrating vehicle owners, until the law caught up with him in the summer of 2013.
Leuck will be sentenced July 10 after pleading no contest to two counts of illegally possessing a gun and four counts of unlawful taking of property worth more than $1,500.
A plea agreement led to the dismissal of five other gun charges.
A judge has set bond at $100,000 for the man accused of stealing tires from multiple cars.
Thomas Leuck appeared in court Monday afternoon. In order to post bail, he will have to come up with $10,000.
He is charged with multiple counts of theft, possession of controlled substance and for being a prohibited person in possession of firearms. He is suspected of being the mastermind behind dozens of tire and wheel thefts in the metro.
Posted July 26, 2013
Channel 6 News Fact Finder Mike McKnight was on the scene soon after Omaha police, its SWAT team, Bellevue police and Sarpy County Sheriff's Department deputies served a search warrant at a house near 54th and O Friday morning.
Twenty-two-year-old Thomas Leuck was arrested and booked into Douglas County Corrections on multiple counts of theft, possession of controlled substance and for being a prohibited person in possession of firearms. He is suspected of being the mastermind behind dozens of tire and wheel thefts in the metro.
Police searched two vehicles and processed a jack, lug nuts and power tools believed to be used to remove the tires. It's believed Leuck and others were working with a secondary dealer who would then take the wheels out of state soon after being stolen.
McKnight and Fact Finders first broke the story on how vehicles were being left on cement blocks with their tires stolen earlier this year.
“We believe that we have the individual who is responsible for the tires and thefts that have been going on in the metro area," says OPD Sgt. Pam Volk. Police don't think Leuck acted alone. “I definitely hope this will stop it, if not it will definitely make it stop for a while, until we can get everyone in custody."
Tim Knust walked outside his west Omaha home three weeks ago to find his SUV up on cement blocks, the tires and rims gone. “This can't be happening, it's unbelievable.” He got them replaced, but he wasn't happy about it. “It took a long time just to be on the phone and to schedule replacements and talk to a lot of folks and follow up. It was a lot of lost time and productivity."
Knust was just one of dozens of victims who found their vehicles on blocks. He was glad to hear of the arrest. “It's a different day coming out in the morning to find out that they've caught him. It's great news.”
Ever since the theft, Knust has been keeping his Suburban inside the garage and says now that a suspect is in custody, it's not going to stop him from taking those preventative measures. “It's great to see that people were hopefully brought to justice and it makes you a little more vigilant in life and it does alter your behavior.”
Matt Hemmelgarn’s wheels were also a target. He's still frustrated, but happy police got a suspect. "It should have happened a long time ago, but it's better they're off the street. I'm happy, knowing that somebody might not be going to try to steal somebody else's tires or wheels or anything else, let alone mine.”