By Holley Nees - email
LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Law enforcement agencies stretched across 300 miles and 11 counties have made six arrests in connection to $250,000 in thefts, according to the Department of Public Safety.
Sgt. Greg Sanches said DPS was able to connect the dots of the thefts because the equipment reported stolen was recovered in the same 11 counties. For instance, Gonzales County authorities reported to San Augustine County about discovering their stolen equipment, and vice versa.
Sanches said $250,000 worth of equipment, including laptops, trucks, trailers, tractors, tools, guns and lawn-care equipment were reported stolen from Houston, Henderson, Shelby, Nacogdoches, Angelina, San Augustine, Rusk, Burleson, Tyler, Gonzales and Grimes Counties.
The equipment was reported stolen from businesses and residents. Victims would enter serial and identification numbers into a database to assist in recovering the items.
Sanches said some of the suspects are related.
Charged in the thefts are Zenaida Zarate Mejorado, 49, of Nacogdoches; Samuel Saenz Mejorado, 49, of Nacogdoches; Eduardo Mejorado, 28, of Nacogdoches; Alex Zarate Yanez, 20, of Lufkin; Pedro Martinez Almaguer, 44, of Gonzales; and Bruno Almaguer, 34, of Gonzales.
At least one of the theft cases, in San Augustine County, was covered by KTRE. Bob Evans reported $40,000 worth of equipment stolen from his business.
"It's hard to say anything other than it scared the life out of me ...it just scared me..."
What he didn't know: The crime was part of a massive theft ring stretching 300 miles from Shelby to Gonzales County.
"I was not going to confront them," Evans said. "That's not my thing, I don't do that."
Evans said a few months ago there were no leads and although he's already replaced the mowers he says it's nice to know there's some resolution."
"I know that we'll never see the machines again," Evans said. "I told the sheriff here when he got it back here, I just like to come by and look at it, just to see it again. But, that's just a feel-good thing."
"We never expected that it would be extending all the way down to Gonzales County," San Augustine County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Gary Cunningham said.
"This is their property," Sanches said. "It was taken from them and it was something that they worked hard for."
"We'd just say we'd appreciate it if you'd find some other means to support yourself," Evans said.
"Crooks always believe that they can get away with it, but TDC is full of people who believe that," Cunningham said.