Marine, tornado victim fights back after targeted by thieves

Posted on: 10:33 pm, December 2, 2013, by , updated on: 10:34pm, December 2, 2013

OKLAHOMA CITY – A burglary quickly turned into a chase Monday afternoon, but this time, it wasn’t police trailing the criminals; it was the victim.

The victim in this case had already lost everything once before in the May 20 tornado and was not going to let thieves take it away again.

As T.J. Sanders and his family were rebuilding their life, they were hit by burglars.

The suspects stole a new refrigerator, washer, dryer and a stove.

The Sanders planned on installing the appliances in the new home they purchased after the storm.

Sanders said, “It’s been a pretty rough six months now.”

He and his wife, Hayley, and their two children were fighting to survive the tornado that tore through their home.

This time, Sanders fought to get their belongings back from burglars.

Hayley said,”We have worked very hard for it because we’ve done a lot of it ourselves.”

Hayley and the kids just left the house before 11 a.m.

They returned 1:15 p.m. to find a window bashed and the garage nearly emptied.

“I think it’s terrible,” said Hayley. “How bold of them!”

Perhaps more brazen, the criminals came back for seconds just as police left the house with the first report.

Sanders heard a truck rounding a corner with his trailer connected to the back.

A former Marine, the man wasn’t going to hold back when he saw the thieves.

He jumped into his truck and started chasing the burglars.

“I think that’s just part of his personality,” said Hayley. “That’s why he signed up for the Marine Corps in the first place, because he has a hero’s heart.”

Sanders said, “I was on edge for sure.”

He trailed the burglars all the way to the Daylight Donuts one mile away.

The suspects stopped and Sanders says one man got out of the truck with a knife.

He was already on the phone with 911.

Sanders said, “I didn’t get out of the vehicle. At this point, the dispatcher told me not to.”

Police were on their way, but when the men jumped back into the truck, Sanders still followed.

He said, “They actually got ahead of me for a little bit and had time to dump the trailer.”

Police jumped into the mix and lost the crooks.

Now, the Sanders can only hope they can get their peace of mind back.

He said, “I wanted to live here a long time, and now I’m always going to think, ‘Are they going to come back?”

He says the criminals were driving a dark gray, crew cab Nissan Titan.

If you have any information, call Oklahoma City CrimeStoppers.

You could get a cash reward for your information.