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Brighton Professional Racing Company to Help Locate Missing Benton Harbor Boy

July 26, 2002

Contact: Sgt. Greg Jones, Prevention Services Section 
(517) 333-4017 
Agency: State Police


July 26, 2002 Brooklyn, Michigan. State, local, and federal law enforcement investigators are teaming up with professional racing company, Conely Racing, Inc. of Brighton, Michigan, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Missing Childrenís Racing Network, to generate leads in the disappearance of a thirteen year old Benton Harbor boy. 

Steven Kraft disappeared February 15, 2001, from his Benton Harbor home after he went out to walk his dogs. Stevenís case has been featured with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, however, authorities indicate few new leads have been generated since his disappearance. 

Conely Racing, sponsored by SBC Ameritech, has decided to duplicate a successful idea implemented by the Miles of Hope Organization during the March 18, 2000 Indy Racing League event in Phoenix, Arizona. During that race, the photograph of a missing Arizona girl was featured on the hood of a racecar. 

Conely Racing, and SBC Ameritech, have joined with the Michigan State Police, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Benton Township Police Department to repeat the same effort during the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Race, Saturday, July 27th at the Michigan International Speedway. 

Featured on the front hood and truck bed cover of the Number 7 Conely Race Truck will be photographic enlargements of Steven. The images are expected to be seen by more than 60,000 race day fans and 2 million ESPN viewers during the nationally televised race. Authorities are hoping that the national and international television exposure will provide them with new information and leads on the case. 

"The entire Conely Race Team is excited about having the opportunity to help the authorities find Steven," said John Conely, president and owner of Conely Racing, Inc. "We want to be as successful in finding Steven as the Missing Childrenís Racing Network was in locating Tori Wollangur. I know I speak on behalf of all our professional racing partners and our driver Bryan Reffner, when I say we truly want to make a difference and help these family members." 

"Increased public awareness is our best chance of recovering these children," said Martin Gray, director, Missing Childrenís Racing Network. 

"Someone, somewhere, has seen something and will hopefully provide the authorities with information that will bring Steven home." "When you look at the photograph of Steven you canít help but feel a compelling need to do whatever is possible to find him," said Detective Thomas Vaught, Benton Township Police Department, the agency that took on the original investigation. "We could never get the national exposure that John Conely and the NASCAR race will be providing us." 

The Kraft case has now been turned over to the FBI who will be handling the case. Anyone with information on Steven is being asked to call Special Agent Al DiBrito, FBI St. Joseph office, (616) 982-0390, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 1-800-843-5678, or the nearest Michigan State Police post.

You can help in the location and prevention of missing children by viewing pictures and reading street proofing tips provided by the site partners. Each case contains a picture and a description of the child. Where appropriate, picture(s) of abductor(s) are also included. You can also read other documentation provided by Miles of Hope, help sponsor a childís image on a truck through the Adopt-a-Truck program, or link to related non-profit sites participating in the Miles of Hope campaign.

Miles of Hope Local Partners are located in most major cities. They scan photos and install the weatherproof missing child posters on vehicles. You may contact them for more information by linking to them here: Links

Please help remedy a national crisis. Take a moment to view Miles of Hope on the Internet or call 1-800-690-FIND. Tell your friends, associates, and family members about the service. Your assistance could make the difference to a childís life.

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