Most NASCAR drivers don't come to mind when you think of Las Vegas crimefighters, but then again, most NASCAR drivers aren't 69-year-old Morgan Shepherd.
The veteran of 44 NASCAR seasons was getting out of his rental car in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart store Monday evening just minutes away from Las Vegas Motor Speedway just as three men burst from the store's entrance with security forces trailing behind.
Thats when Shepherd, a daily jogger and fitness perfectionist, sprang into action.
"I just got out and took off after them," Shepherd said. "I caught one of them just as they were getting ready to hop a little wall at the end of the parking lot. I yanked him down and got on top of him."
Shepherd said in a matter of seconds a Las Vegas police officer pitched the ageless NASCAR driver a pair and handcuffs and continued pursuit of the other two suspects, along with the store's security force.
"I cuffed him and sat on top of him," Shepherd said. "The police department officers showed up and asked if I could hold him a while longer while they ran down the others. I told them he wasn't going anywhere."
Shepherd said while the young shoplifter pleaded with him to let him go and about the possibility of going to jail, Shepherd used the time to lecture the youth about his poor choices.
"I didn't tell him a 69-year-old man chased him down," Shepherd joked. "He was probably 18 or 19. I told him he shouldn't be stealing stuff. There is just too much of this stuff going on."
Two years ago while in Las Vegas for a Nationwide Series race Shepherd himself experienced crime from the victim's perspective. His rental car was broken into and his GPS and cellular phone were stolen. During the 2008 season someone also stole his bicycle while he was racing at Chicagoland Speedway.
"So many people these days would just sit and watch those guys run away," Shepherd said. "People need to get up and help stop this type of stuff."
The three suspects were taken into custody by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. It wasn't known Tuesday what charges were pending against them.
Shepherd said after brushing himself off he and wife Cindy continued their shopping visit to Wal-Mart.
Just another day in the life of Morgan Shepherd, Las Vegas crimefighter!
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