EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - Area law enforcement officers have recovered $100,000 worth of stolen items they say were taken to buy meth. This is a major theft ring bust thanks to the joint effort of East Texas agencies.
So far, nine suspects have been arrested and authorities are searching for more.
Smith County Constable Dennis Taylor says the thieves struck all across East Texas, including Smith, Wood, Van Zandt, and Anderson Counties.
Investigators say they are career criminals - by day, staking out East Texans' homes and by night, returning to steal anything left out. They say the ring would take anything and everything they could get their hands.
"Everything was sold or traded for methamphetamine, everything," said Taylor.
Investigators say Johnny Moore was the ring leader.
"Johnny was even at the point that he was dealing methamphetamine," said Van Zandt County Constable Pat Jordan.
Taylor says Moore and two others are responsible for stealing from this disabled veteran who lives outside Mineola. Ron Tyndell has not been able to get around his land since the crooks stole his "chuck wagon."
"For somebody to steal something that I worked hard to get, oh it burns," said Tyndell. "It burns deep. Especially when you know that all they did was used it probably to go buy dope."
"They were doing this for a high," said Sgt. Ronnie Foster, with the Anderson County Sheriff's Department. "That's why they didn't find as many drugs, as soon as they got their high, they were out stealing again."
Investigators are still on the hunt for another member of the ring, Juan Carlos Gonzales. With his arrest, authorities believe more property will be recovered.
"He is illegal so he has no driver's license, he has no insurance in his vehicle, and he may be anywhere in the country," said Taylor.
Tyndell explains they must have acted quickly and quietly in the night because none of his family heard anything.
"They wouldn't have wanted me to catch them," said Tyndell. "I'm serious, it would have been tough consequences. They wouldn't be calling police out there, they'd be calling an ambulance out here."
Like many other victims, he is just hoping his property can be found and returned.
Investigators say a lot of the stolen items were sold in Dallas - some even across state lines. They say if you are missing anything, such as rolls of insulation or a 20-foot Kearney trailer, call your local authorities.