Yankton pawn shop owner key person in finding FBI fugitive
YANKTON, SD (SIOUXLAND NEWS) —
Kevin Haug is the owner of River City Treasure and Pawn in Yankton, South Dakota.
Earlier this week on June 13th, one of his employees said a man entered his pawn shop looking to sell some pliers.
"He thought it was odd the way he was acting," Haug said.
So while purchasing the pliers from this man, the employee proceeded to ask for the man's ID because he was acting suspicious.
"Well, said Haug, "he was just kind of fidgety and stand offish."
After googling the name on the ID, they realized it was Lyle Jeffs.
Jeffs has been on the FBI's top ten most wanted list for about a year, after leaving his home state of Utah while awaiting trial for food stamp fraud charges.
A former leader in the polygamist group, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Jeffs had been living out of his car while trying to evade custody.
Law enforcement began searching for a silver pickup with Utah license plates and just a day later, a Yankton Police officer found that very same car that matched the description at the Lewis and Clark Marina, right here, in Yankton.
"He then called for assistance and then this Jeffs got in his pickup and drove west a little bit and a traffic stop ensued by the Yankton Police Department," said Chief Deputy Michael Rothschadl of the Yankton County Sheriff's Office.
Eric Barnhart of the FBI's Salt Lake City bureau says even though it took a year, this collective team effort was the reason law enforcement was able to capture Jeffs.
"We knew this was just a matter of time and," Barnhart said "he might not have been in physical custody from that moment he fled almost a year ago, until last night but he spent that whole time, I'm sure, looking over his shoulder, wondering about every police officer he saw, what highway patrolmen, and what person would eventually give him up."
"It's awesome that he spotted him," Rothschadl said. "You know, sometimes, we get lucky."
"Why do you think he gave you his license?" Siouxland News Reporter Nick Popham asked.
"I have no idea," Haug said. "I can't imagine what he had possibly been thinking."