Man sentenced for theft of popular Osage City antique vehicle

An Osage City man was sentenced to prison Monday for stealing an antique car from an Osage City residence, almost exactly a year from when local police requested the public’s assistance in trying to locate the well-known vehicle.

According to a press release from Osage County Attorney Brandon Jones, Joseph L. Gardner, 29, was sentenced in Osage County District Court on Dec. 19, 2016, to 16 months in the custody of the Kansas Department of Corrections. Gardner was convicted of felony theft and felony interference with law enforcement on Sept. 19, 2016, after pleading no contest to those charges.

On Dec. 15, 2015, Osage City Police Department took a report on the burglary of a home in the 400 block of north Fifth Street in Osage City, and theft of a 1954 Ford Customline 4-door sedan from the home’s garage. Also stolen were undetermined household and personal items, with the thefts believed to have occurred between Dec. 8 and Dec. 15, 2015.

The antique car, which belonged to Osage City resident Lorraine Smiley, was well-known around Osage County, as Smiley has driven it in many local parades over the years.

The police department reported that tips from the public developed from postings through online media, including surveillance photos of the vehicle and a suspect taken at the Walgreen’s store at 37th Street and Topeka Avenue, in Topeka, on Dec. 16, 2015.

On Dec. 19, 2015, the Osage City Police Department reported the vehicle had been recovered, but would release no other information about the condition of the vehicle, where it had been recovered, if arrests had been made, or if suspects were still sought.

On March 13, 2013, the Osage County Sheriff’s Office arrested Gardner on warrants for residential burglary, felony theft, and criminal damage to property, and on Aug. 9, 2016, he was arrested by Osage City police for bond violations.

On Sept. 19, 2016, Gardner entered no contest pleas and was found guilty of felony theft of property or services valued $1,000 to $25,000 for theft of the vehicle, and felony interference with law enforcement. Jones said Gardner ran from officers and resisted arrest in August. As part of a plea agreement, two counts of burglary, three counts of criminal damage to property, and another count of theft were dismissed.

The county attorney said the court also ordered Gardner to pay more than $6,000 in restitution for damages to the antique car.

As of Monday, Gardner was being held in the Osage County Jail awaiting transportation to prison.

See related story: Police seek leads in residential burglary and theft of locally well-known antique car


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