Six teen-agers charged in theft of two trucks for 'joyriding'

By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram Crime Reporter

Jan. 25, 2008 - Half a dozen Hopkins County teen-agers have been charged in the theft of trucks from a local dairy this week, as well as damaging a barn on the property.

Most of the five 17-year-olds and one 16-year-old, all males, were booked into the county jail Thursday after authorities located the stolen vehicles, which apparently were taken for joyrides.

All six teen-agers face at least one charge of criminal mischief. Four have been charged with two counts of vehicle theft, while two were booked into jail on only one count of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and criminal mischief for damaging the dairy barn.

The teen said to be the "ringleader" was arrested just before 10 a.m. Thursday by Special Crimes Unit Sgt. Investigator Tony Crouse and Hopkins County Sheriff's Investigator Lewis Tatum.

A County Road 1116 dairy operator contacted deputies Wednesday night after someone stole a red one-ton pickup from his dairy.

The truck was found on fire shortly after midnight on Pipeline Road. Someone had apparently been "cutting donuts" with the truck when it got stuck and caught on fire, causing a large pasture fire. Sulphur Springs firefighters extinguished the grass fire, according to reports.

Just after 5 a.m. Thursday, the dairy farmer reported a second vehicle, a 3/4 ton white truck, had been stolen from the same barn. During the theft, the truck was driven into the front of the barn, causing $5,000 damage to the structure.

The truck was located at 6:47 a.m. in a ditch about a mile west of the dairy barn. The vehicle had apparently sustained other damage from being driven through a pasture and the ditch, according to Tatum.

The investigation by sheriff's and Northeast Texas Auto Task Force officers turned up evidence that one of the 17-year-olds was involved. He was taken into custody at a Sulphur Springs residence shortly after 8 a.m. Thursday then interviewed at the sheriff's office, where he admitted to the offenses. He was identified as the "ringleader" and arrested on two unauthorized use of a motor vehicle charge as well as for criminal mischief.

The others were brought in Thursday and this morning and gave written statements admitting involvement in the theft and property damage.

Investigators noted about $12,000 in damages overall.

Involved in the case were Hopkins County Sheriff's deputies and Investigators Tatum, Charles Humphries and Jace Anglin, SCU Sgt. Investigator Crouse, and Northeast Texas Auto Task Force Investigators Jeremy Massey and Haskell Maroney,

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