Meet the police officer who has recovered more than 2,000 stolen cars

Mar 4, 2019, 2:57 PM
Officer Rod Hunt...
Officer Rod Hunt of the Salt Lake City Police Department recovers about 100 stolen cars each year. (Photo: KSL TV)
(Photo: KSL TV)

Every police officer has a skill they’re amazing at. For Officer Rod Hunt, it’s finding stolen cars. Over the course of his career, he’s recovered more than 2,000 of them.

That’s the best guess, anyway. Nobody started keeping count until 11 years ago. In that time, Hunt recovered 730 stolen vehicles, but over his 29 year-long career, Hunt’s pretty confident he’s at least topped 2,000.

It isn’t exactly a superpower. Hunt just keeps his eyes open for suspicious-looking cars and makes sure he runs their plates.

He spoke to KSL Newsradio’s Dave & Dujanovic to explain how he does it – and what you can do to make sure you never need his help.

How Rod Hunt recovers stolen vehicles

Hunt says he developed his skill early in his career when he was put on the overnight shift and needed a hobby to keep himself occupied.

“Come around three o’ clock, it’s slow,” Hunt told KSL, “and you want to take a nap. So basically, I had to find something to keep me awake.”

He found his hobby in looking out for suspicious vehicles. He’d look for little things that seemed off about a car. If he noticed, for example, a parked car with the driver’s side window down, it might be a sign that the window had been smashed in by a thief.

“I will see a vehicle and I’ll say: ‘That shouldn’t be there,’” Hunt says. “So I just make a note of it, and then the next time I go back to work, I would run those license plates and, sure enough, some of those come up as stolen.”

So how do these cars wind up stolen in the first place? Hunt says that a lot of the time, it’s because people make it easier for the robbers by leaving their cars running.

A lot of stolen cars, he says, were left running because their drivers wanted to warm them up. When a thief sees a car like that, Hunt says: “They’ll just smash the window and take off with it.”

Another big risk comes from thieves waiting outside of parking lots of stores like 7-Eleven, watching for somebody to leave their car running while they run inside.

“There’s a guy just outside, pretending to be on the phone. That guy’s looking for that opportunity,” Hunt says. “All they need is that opportunity to hop in there. You can’t chase these cars, they’ll just take off.”

Fortunately, if your car is stolen, the Salt Lake City Police Department has Hunt on the case. And Hunt says he doesn’t mind recovering these cars. In fact, he enjoys it.

“Yeah, it’s therapy for me,” Hunt told KSL. “It’s just fun to come out here, and do something and make a citizen feel good, like: ‘Hey, that was my life. I needed that car.’”

More to the story

If you missed Dave & Dujanovic’s conversation with Officer Rod Hunt live on the air, you can still catch it on the Dave & Dujanovic podcast:

Stories like Hunt’s, Dave & Dujanovic believe, are proof of just how important our police officers are. They are calling on all of their listeners to thank our police by signing their #PayOurPolice pledge to restore Utah’s public safety retirement program:

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon on KSL Newsradio. Users can find the show on the KSL Newsradio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

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Meet the police officer who has recovered more than 2,000 stolen cars