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Rural Pottawatomie County couple’s renovation home broken into 7 times in 10 months

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A retired military couple’s home they’re renovating in rural Pottawatomie County near Prague has been broken into seven times in 10 months by thieves who continue to steal from them.

The Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s office is investigating what homeowner Paul Stephens said was a promising project for the couple, until it turned into a nightmare.

“It costs a lot of money you know,” said Stephens. “You work really hard for all that stuff and to have it taken away like that is very, very frustrating.”

“You would think that out in the middle of the country you would be safer than in the middle of a big city,” said Allana Stephens, Paul’s wife.

It took a turn when thieves broke into it several times and stole almost everything of value inside.

“It’s ridiculous,” Paul Stephens said. 

The Stephenses bought the 40-acre property last year. The house has been gutted inside because they were in the process of renting it for Allana’s mother when the thieves showed up for the first time in February.

“One evening, somebody came in and cleaned me out,” Paul Stephens said.

More than $10,000-worth of tools were taken. The thieves didn’t stop there. 

“Couple weeks after that, we got hit again,” Stephens said.

And again.

“Had more things taken that we weren’t able to get out between times,” he said.

And again.

“They just keep coming back,” he said.

It’s happened seven times now since February, as they steal things every time they come through. Stephens said he tried to put out cameras.

“They stole the trail cam,” he said.

His shed was also broken into throughout those times the thieves showed up.

Stephens said he even put a plow out with some logs to block the driveway.

However, the thieves stole hydraulic equipment and hoses off the plow, before bypassing it to get to the house.

“What they ended up doing is cutting the gate chain on the gate of neighbors property and driving across his field to get up beside the house,” Stephens said.

One time, he almost caught them. The second time they broke in, he went over there, but they still managed to get away.

“I think they heard my vehicle pull up because they left the items sitting on a dolly outside the front door of the house,” Stephens said.

Now he uses a trail camera that has a network connection to his phone. It emails him photos about one minute or so after it takes them. He managed to capture pictures with that camera and others that you can see in this report of the thieves in action.

He and his wife Allana said they’re just hoping these men can be brought to justice.

“We worked hard and we were trying to work hard on remodeling the house and it took away money and time,” Allana Stephens said. 

“They probably only got a quarter the amount of value out of the property and they could’ve easily gotten a job probably and made that much money you know a real job and not been stealing stuff from other people,” Paul Stephens said.

No arrests have been made, but Pottawatomie County Sheriff Mike Booth said he feels like they are making strides in the case.

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