A constant crime in East Texas is trailer thefts. The East Texas Auto Theft Task Force says trailers are constantly being stolen in our area, and only about 10% of them are ever recovered.
Investigators say one of the most frustrating parts of the problem is that there is very little trailer owners can do to avoid becoming a victim.
"The target is mostly flat-bed trailers; 16 foot and 18 foot flat bed trailers. We've had some enclosed cargo type trailers stolen, too," says East Texas Auto Theft Task Force Investigator Gary King.
King says if a trailer is visible, then it's vulnerable. Some of the few trailers that have been recovered over the years were stolen from private property. Other stolen trailers were even stored behind gates when they were taken.
Investigators say one thief they interviewed had a lot of pictures of trailers on his cell phone. They later learned that those were photos he'd taken of trailers he saw while out and about town. Then, he posted the pictures on Craig's List to sell in Dallas. However, it wasn't until after he already had a buyer that he'd go out and steal the trailer. Then, the thief would pass off the stolen property and make some cash in a matter of hours.
"The way that they are altering the trailers... they change the color of the trailers, they'll be taken from one area and sold in another area, so it's unlikely that the victim would see their trailer again," says King.
In a proactive approach against the trailer thefts, the East Texas Auto Theft Task force has staged bait trailers around East Texas.
"What we do is, when the trailer is taken, we will follow the trailer to its destination. Wherever that might be. We've been very successful in recovering other stolen property and other trailers. The bait trailer program is working well, but the thefts haven't really slowed down," says King.
King doesn't expect the trailer theft rate to slow down anytime soon. He says the best defense is taking extra care in deciding where to park a trailer. He suggests, making sure it's out of sight from any nearby roadway.
The East Texas Auto Theft Task Force says most trailers that are recovered in East Texas were reported stolen in Dallas and vice versa.
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