Close to $15,000 in tools and other equipment stolen from Hopkins County Memorial Hospital earlier this week was recovered at a rural Sulphur Springs location after a sheriff's deputy investigated a report of a reckless driver.
Two men were arrested on felony theft charges after the stolen property was found. Brad Philip Brown, 21, of Sulphur Springs and Billy Joe Duke, 22, of Garland were brought to the Hopkins County jail Wednesday evening and booked on charges of theft of property worth more than $1,500 but less than $20,000. The state jail felony carries a potential punishment of 180 days to two years in a state jail and up to $10,000 in fines.
Deputy David Ray was on patrol in the southwest section of Hopkins County when a man reported a reckless driver in a white Ford Mustang on County Road 4758.
Ray located the Mustang “at the dead end of a residence” on County Road 4759 and pulled into a private drive.
"Deputy David Ray found the vehicle sitting behind a trailer house with the doors and trunk open," said Investigator Lewis Tatum. "When he approached the vehicle, a white male appeared from behind the house, then ran back into the house."
The door and the trunk of the Mustang were open. As Ray walked to the back of the residence, he noticed numerous power tools in the trunk, including a drill labeled "Hopkins County Memorial Hospital." More power tools were on the porch.
Ray knocked on the door, but no one answered. The deputy went back to his patrol vehicle, then called for assistance from other sheriff's officers, including Tatum, who lives nearby.
"When we all surrounded the house, all the tools were gone off the back porch, so someone had come out and got them," Tatum said today. "We started making contact with other officers and found out that some stuff had been stolen the night before at the hospital."
Tatum said Assistant District Attorney Samantha Crouch was contacted for advice while officers continued to try to make contact with the subjects in the house.
"We weren't sure of their identity at that point, or whether they even belonged there," Tatum added. "They finally came to the door and were subsequently arrested for possession of stolen property. Inside the residence we found the rest of the items."
Investigators from the sheriff's office and Sulphur Springs Police Department met at the sally port of the Hopkins County Law Enforcement Center this morning to begin tallying up the haul of assorted tools and other equipment. Initial assessments indicated about $14,700 worth of property was recovered.
Investigators said the two men who were arrested had previously been employed at the hospital.
Tatum said officers would return to the location to check a locked building to see if more stolen property could be located.
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