Tip leads HCSO to $261,000 worth of stolen property
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

Jan. 19, 2005 -- A County Road 4744 resident's attentiveness toward a neighbor's property resulted in the recovery of $261,000 worth of stolen farm and construction equipment and instigated a multi-jurisdiction investigation into the thefts that occurred in the Dallas area.

The case got its first break on Monday when Hopkins County Sheriff's Sgt. Todd Evans received a call of suspicious activity at the neighboring property on CR 4744, which includes a 60-acre pasture and an unfinished two-story house, Hopkins County Sheriff's Investigator Lewis Tatum said Wednesday morning.

Evans went out to check out the report, and contacted Investigators Tatum and Jace Anglin after discovering a tractor that did not belong at the location. Tatum then contacted Haskell Maroney and Jeremy Massey with North Texas Auto Task Force in Paris, which covers a four-county area, and gave him the serial number off the tractor, which was believed to be stolen. The task force officers then ran the information through their system and received confirmation that the vehicle was stolen out of the Dallas area.

Sgt. John Murray with the motor vehicle theft services division of Texas Department of Public Safety was also contacted. The officers from the three agencies then coordinated with the Eighth Judicial District Attorney's Office, who helped them secure a search warrant signed by Eighth Judicial District Judge Robert Newsom for the premises Tuesday evening.

A close inspection of the property turned up a $261,000 worth of property determined to have been stolen from businesses and private equipment owners in the Dallas area. Included among the stolen items were a Caterpillar skid loader, a John Deere tractor with shredder and front end loader, a 20-foot utility trailer and a Caterpillar track loader. One of the items was found hidden in a concealed "tank" area covered in mud.

North Texas Auto Task Force officers stayed with the equipment overnight Tuesday, and were working with the DPS sergeant and sheriff's investigators Wednesday to inventory and secure the property until it could be removed from the property, then released to Dallas authorities for further processing and to be returned to the owners.

No arrests had been made in the case, but officials were pursuing leads which they hope will lead them to the culprits, who they suspect of obtaining the equipment for both personal use and resale value.

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