No cape, but still W-B’s crusader
Towing operator Kadluboski fights crime when he’s not raising the city’s hackles.
Last Modified: April 19. 2013 1:43PM
WILKES-BARRE – Call him a rebel with a cause.
Bob Kadluboski, the pistol-packing towing contractor known for his sunglasses and city council meeting antics, has assisted in the apprehension of many crime suspects over the years.
Yet because of his long-running adversarial relationship with city leaders, he has not been publicly acknowledged for being a citizen crime fighter.
“We have no comment on the matter,” is all Drew McLaughlin, administrative coordinator for the city, would say on behalf of Mayor Tom Leighton.
After all, Leighton once called Kadluboski “Cupcake” at a council meeting and the owner of City-Wide Towing has squealed like a pig before council to protest policies not to his liking.
City council has honored citizens who help law enforcement. Just last year city officials honored a mailman with a proclamation for helping thwart a robbery at his parents’ house.
“It’s never gonna happen,” was Kadluboski’s response when asked about the possibility of recognition. “I’ve assisted on dozens of arrests. Yeah, me – I’m the one that spots the criminals and the city has all those cameras.”
The reason, he said, is he wants to help the city and its residents.
A portable scanner sits next to him in his blue tow truck and the volume is always turned up. Kadluboski perks up when a call comes over the scanner and he dispatches himself to the area near the scene.
When he spots a suspect or suspects, he immediately goes into crime fighter mode. He will sit in his truck and watch the suspect or suspects so they don’t flee. He will block an intersection to stop a suspect’s vehicle from passing.
He’s rammed a vehicle or two to stop suspects from getting away.
And he’s even drawn his handgun – he is licensed and permitted to carry a firearm.
Kadluboski, 56, pays close attention to the police scanner between towing vehicles and attending council meetings.
He said police officers have thanked him for his assistance, but he said he has not been thanked publicly by any city administration.
At Banks shooting scene
In September 1982, when George Banks went on a shooting spree killing 13 people at two locations, Kadluboski was among the first on the scene at Schoolhouse Lane. He’ll tell you he was the first to enter the house to calm down a Doberman that would not stop barking.
More recently, when robbery suspect Joseph Solomon was on the loose in April 2007, Kadluboski held him at gunpoint until police arrived. Two days earlier the elusive suspect rammed a Hanover Township police cruiser with a dump truck and then damaged cruisers from two other departments before escaping.
And Kadluboski knew before most in October 2003 that Hugo Selenski tied sheets together to escape from the Luzerne County Correctional Facility.
“I’m just a concerned citizen,” he said. “If I see or hear of trouble, I try to help out.”
Most concerned citizens don’t take their civic duty to the extent Kadluboski has. And most wouldn’t use their vehicle to ram a suspect’s car like he did to help nab the White House Café shooters.
“They would have gotten away if I didn’t,” he says matter-of-factly.
In June 2003, Kadluboski heard a city police officer’s call for assistance. He said he could tell by the officer’s tone that he was in trouble. “I pulled up and stood by,” he said. “The suspect knew the officer was not alone.”
“Since I’m on the outside with this administration, I’ll never get any credit,” Kadluboski said. “But I’m not looking for any. Just knowing I helped somebody is enough credit for me.”
Kadluboski says he’s been this way since he was a kid.
He was 10 when he called police to fix a huge pothole on Blackman Street. And he was 14 when he ran into a neighbor’s house after an explosion to see if anyone needed assistance.
“I’ve always wanted to help people,” he said.
Miners Mills incident
A couple Sundays ago, Kadluboski heard on his scanner that two inmates walked off their work release job site. A search was going on near the Susquehanna River.
“I decided to take a wide patrol of the area and I spotted them in Miners Mills,” he said. “I called 911 and gave a detailed description. The 911 operator told me the two guys were the suspects.”
Soon after, the two men were returned to custody.
Councilman Tony George is a former city police chief who appreciated backup when on patrol. “I remember one night I pulled over a car with five or six guys in it,” George said Friday. “When you’re by yourself with that many people, you appreciate having help.”
George said while he was talking to the driver of the vehicle, Kadluboski pulled up in his tow truck in full view of the suspect’s car.
“He made sure I was OK,” George said. “I’ll always appreciate him for that.”
George says Kadluboski has every right to attend council meetings and air his concerns. He says Kadluboski sometimes gets out of hand, but his conduct there shouldn’t detract from his help in fighting crime.
“They’re two separate issues,” George said. “He should be recognized for what he has done to help law enforcement. He has always been there and he has never interfered with police.”
In 2012 crime seems to be everywhere. Kadluboski talked about the recent shooting in Plymouth that left three people dead and another fighting for his life.
“These drug dealers are crazy,” he said. “I don’t have a death wish, but what are we supposed to do? Let them ruin our country?”
When he has had trouble getting through to 911, he has used his dispatch radio to call police directly. That has gotten him in hot water with the Federal Communications Commission.
“Am I supposed to just let crime happen?” he asks. “I can’t do that; someone could be dying and I won’t let that happen.”
“When crime goes away, then I’ll go away,” he said.