Smith County sheriff praises partnership with ETX counties to stop auto burglaries, theft

Smith County sheriff praises partnership with ETX counties to stop auto burglaries, theft

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The Smith County sheriff praised the commissioners court's decision to approve a continued partnership between five East Texas law enforcement agencies known as the East Texas Auto Theft Task Force (ETATTF).

The East Texas Auto Theft Task Force was first organized in Smith County in 1993, and currently includes members of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Tyler Police Department, and the Smith, Rusk, and Henderson county sheriff's offices.

The task force's main goal is to prevent auto theft and burglaries, but it also provides assistance in the form of strategy and resources to 14 counties covered by the East Texas Council of Government.

Sergeant Darrell Coslin with the Smith County Sheriff's Office said the partnership is especially important considering criminals who tend to get involved with auto theft and burglaries move from county to county when they commit crimes.

"Crooks don't stay put," Coslin said. "So a task force like this tends to follow them wherever they go."

During Tuesday's commissioners court meeting, Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith spoke at length about what the relationship offers.

"They're a great partner when we have these long-term investigations, when we're dealing with burglary and auto theft," said Smith. "We just did one where we arrested 21 individuals in around a four-county area. Again, talk about a force multiplier, when you bring a whole task force, when we're only providing one person, is just a great asset to have."

The ETATTF works in conjunction with the Auto Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority (ABTPA), a state-run network of law enforcement groups, prosecutors, insurance industry representatives, and concerned citizens.  In addition to providing guidance and oversight, ABTPA awards financial grants to agencies, organizations, and concerned parties in an effort to raise public awareness of vehicle theft and burglary and implement education and prevention initiatives.

The ETATTF receives a large portion of its funding from the ABTPA, which receives its funding through state automotive insurance fees.

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