Deputies clear up case of stolen van Sunday before it gets reported

By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram Crime Reporter

Feb. 18, 2008 - Hopkins County Sheriff's Office has a well-deserved reputation for clearing up offenses, but they outdid themselves this weekend when deputies solved a vehicle theft before the owner even realized the van had been stolen.

It all began with a routine traffic stop and felony drunk driving arrest but concluded with charges filed for motor vehicle theft.

Deputies stopped the driver of a Ford Econoline van just after 12 a.m. Sunday for traveling 85 miles per hour in a 55 mph speed zone, and for failure to maintain a single lane of travel.

Deputies detected a strong odor of alcohol on the driver, 29-year-old Thomas Lee Bagenstose of San Antonio, who appeared to be nervous. He was determined by officers to be intoxicated and was taken to the county jail on a felony driving while intoxicated charge. The van he was driving was impounded.

At about 10 a.m. Sunday, a staff member at Teen Challenge Ranch contacted deputies to report an Econoline van matching the description of the one Bagenstose was driving had been stolen from the County Road 2391 facility. The staff member said someone had apparently removed the keys from a worker's room sometime late Saturday or early Sunday and drove off with the van.

Deputies were happy to report that the van had already been recovered and the person driving it was in custody. A short time later, Bagenstose was interviewed by sheriff's officers, then charged Sunday morning with un authorized use of a motor vehicle.

Another stolen vehicle was recovered in Hopkins County later Sunday.

A Chevrolet Taho was stopped on Interstate 30 by state troopers Sunday afternoon, and a records check confirmed the sport utility vehicle had been reported stolen in Tyler.

Troopers took Daniel Delgado Sanchez, 26, of Sulphur Springs into custody at 4:30 p.m. Sunday on a felony theft of property charge.

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