Rantz exclusive: Puyallup man may have saved teen after nearly being run over stopping theft

Apr 8, 2024, 4:28 PM | Updated: 5:14 pm

Image: A Puyallup man was nearly ran over when he confronted a thief trying to steal his truck....

A Puyallup man was nearly ran over when he confronted a thief trying to steal his truck. (Image courtesy of Jason Rantz, KTTH)

(Image courtesy of Jason Rantz, KTTH)

What would you do if you saw someone trying to steal your car? One Puyallup man jumped into action when he saw a thief trying to take the truck from his driveway last week.

Jason Rantz had the truck owner, Eric Smith, on The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH in an exclusive interview on Monday.

Smith caught the whole incident on video on his Ring surveillance camera. He said at night, he got a notification on his phone that someone was in his driveway, so he hopped out of bed and went to confront the person. He then saw a man trying to steal his truck. Smith approached the perpetrator who then ran to a getaway car.

Rantz said that although it’s not the smartest move to confront someone, he would probably do the same thing. He then asked Smith if the perpetrator had any weapons. To which Smith said, he only saw a flashlight.

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Puyallup man prepares for car prowler

However, Smith said he had been preparing for the prowler after seeing notifications every night of his neighbors’ cars getting prowled.

“So, I think I already had it in my head that this was the way I wanted to respond to it. Because I didn’t want to happen to me. And I was tired of seeing all the notifications. And it happened to other people,” Smith said.

Smith said he was able to detain the prowler and that’s when he called for help. The driver of a getaway car then started backing up and called out to the perpetrator to move out of the way. He then drove at Smith, who ended up on the hood of the car.

“It was pretty exciting. It happened pretty quick. I will say that what happens in your mind as all this stuff’s going on is actually insane. I just got my truck back from being fixed. And you know, as he started driving with me on the hood, the only thing I could think of at the time was no, not my truck,” Smith said. And I turned over my shoulder and looked and saw my truck and immediately I was like, OK, (I have to) kick the door closed because I was going right up the door and then had to lift my legs for impact and it just happened to be the momentum took me right off the hood and right on my feet.”

Smith said the prowler got in the getaway car and yelled out “Do it again!” So, Smith created distance and took out his phone to get a picture of the license plate.

Juvenile arrested in connection to attempted theft

Rantz said a juvenile was arrested in Federal Way in connection to the attempted vehicle theft over the weekend. Rantz then asked Smith what his interaction was like with the suspected juvenile.

Smith said he could immediately tell a teenager was responsible, so his initial response changed.

“As soon as I realized that I went to try to grab onto him and detain him and hold on to him and keep him in front of me. Versus, trying to beat the crap out of him,” Smith explained.

Rantz said it must be a weird feeling knowing it was a teenager.

Puyallup man says people should weigh risks before involving guns

“A lot of people don’t think about that. This has been blowing up on social media and I’ve looked at a lot of the comments, I’ve looked at what everyone says. ‘I would have shot him, I would have pulled out a gun.’ Honestly, I wouldn’t have changed anything. I think it all happened perfectly,” Smith said. “The two individuals are detained. I didn’t get injured, you know, it’s a minimal confrontation.”

Smith added that he thinks a lot of people don’t weigh the risks and things could have gone much differently if he had started firing.

“If I would have come down with a weapon, it could have been 2 on 1, I could have lost the weapon, they could have gained control of it, they could have stolen my weapon. And I could have been the one that ended up getting shot,” Smith explained.

Rantz also mentioned that Smith would have been in legal trouble if he shot at the teen and then brought up the uptick in juvenile crime across Washington.

However, Rantz noted that the teen may come from a broken home, they didn’t have people looking out for them, or they may have been taken advantage of by an adult who was using them to commit crimes. He then asked Smith what he thought.

Smith said he didn’t understand what the teen had to gain but when the crime was committed it was “perfect timing.”

Criminals think they have ‘free reign’

“So these criminals are becoming more adaptive and realizing that the police aren’t out here patrolling the areas, they live in pretty much new development and they can come out and have free reign on whatever they do,” Smith added.

Smith said when he reported the crime to the police, the officer noted a car prowl but nothing about the assault until later on. He also mentioned that after the video was shared, a woman contacted him who said the same thing happened to her 30 minutes before.

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“I don’t know if it’s for … the thrill. Or if they’re actually trying to get a few bucks and change from people’s consoles. It doesn’t make sense to me. And I’ve seen the increase in this type of behavior,” Smith said. “And I was one of the people that was not going to stand for and next time one of these guys might not be so lucky. Somebody will probably come out with a gun and, and just start shooting,” Smith said.

To which Rantz said Smith might have actually saved the teen’s life.

“In a weird way, you might have saved this kid’s life, as much as hopefully he’ll suffer some legal consequences but you might have saved his life,” Rantz said.

Rantz then said he’s glad Smith is OK even though he has to get his truck fixed again, the situation could have been much worse.

Listen to The Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3-7 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow Jason on X, formerly known as TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

Julia Dallas is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read her stories here. Follow Julia on X, formerly known as Twitter, here and email her here.

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Rantz exclusive: Puyallup man may have saved teen after nearly being run over stopping theft