SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Five individuals were arrested Christmas Eve after authorities uncovered a large burglary and theft ring affecting several East Texas counties.
Over the past several months, the Smith County Sheriff's Office has received multiple theft and burglary of a building calls. The thieves involved in these incidents had been stealing commercial grade lawn mowers, weed eaters, chain saws, power tools, all-terrain vehicles and firearms in Smith County and adjacent counties.
These thefts increased in the days leading up to Christmas Eve. On Christmas Eve, deputies received several calls reporting thefts on County Road 1100 just south of Noonday. While these reports were being taken, a burglary in progress was reported on Farm to Market 724 in the New Harmony Community.
The suspected thieves were located by Smith County Deputy Jacob Hart on Farm to Market 2661 just west of Highway 155. John Kincheloe, 27, attempted to evade capture on foot and was struck by a passing motorist's vehicle. Kincheloe was examined by emergency personnel at the scene and later booked into the Smith County Jail.
The Smith County Sheriff's Department and detectives from both Smith County and Upshur County worked well past midnight Christmas Eve to recover stolen property and identify the theft suspects.
In addition to firearms, power tools, weed eaters, chain saws and lawn mowers, three vehicles and a landscape trailer were seized from the suspects.
All five suspects will be prosecuted for third degree felonies under the "Engaging in Organized Crime" statute.
Kincheloe and his wife, Jacqueline, were arrested in June for stealing $30,000 in lawn equipment from a neighborhood off of highway 64 in Tyler. They were also charged with theft of elderly citizens.
The identites of the four remaining suspects have not yet been released.