San Angelo, TX – October 21, 2011 – When ARA member Wayne Maples, owner of Concho Auto Recovery, spotted a Dodge truck stolen from his lot on the highway, he had no idea it would lead to a high speed chase and the arrest of eight suspects in a burglary and meth amphetamine ring that spread over six counties.
Wayne Maples, owner of Concho Auto Recovery, said the day after a Dodge truck had been stolen from his business he saw it while driving on Loop 306.
After talking to a sheriff deputy, he went home to retrieve a serial number for a GPS unit inside the stolen truck — and saw the truck in the opposite lane.
Maples said he followed the truck to a local motel, where he tried to confront the driver, who then hopped in the cab and raced off.
He backed off but took down the license plate of a vehicle driven by a woman whom Maples said he later learned was the man’s girlfriend. The truck was recovered within a couple of weeks.
Also taken from the recovery shop were clothes repossessed from people and destined for donation to the Salvation Army, Maples said.
Losing the truck, which he valued at least $16,000, would have hurt the business. It was the first time a vehicle had been stolen from the repo business.
“It would have cost a very large sum of money out of my pocket,” Maples said.
Two people have been sentenced and six others indicted in the breakup of what San Angelo police called a major burglary and minor meth ring that spanned multiple counties and involved several agencies.
Earlier this month, San Angelo police detectives Hank Hethcock and Lynn Dye were recognized by the department for their work in bringing about the arrests.
The two partnered for six months to investigate a drug distribution and burglary ring that spanned 10 counties and culminated in June with organized crime indictments against eight men and women, they said.
In Runnels County, Tammy Bradford, 28, pleaded guilty to an organized crime charge and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. In the Tom Green County, Daniel Madron, 41, of Ballinger, pleaded guilty last week to felony theft and was sentenced to 40 years, said Bryan Clayton, 119th first assistant district attorney.
Stolen items were returned to at least 53 victims over six counties, San Angelo Police Chief Tim Vasquez said.
The case began as an investigation into small-scale distribution of meth, police said, but turned out to be a large-scale theft and burglary case. Dye became involved when the investigation began to include property crime.
Tom Green County Sheriff Sgt. Ray Mellas said his department became involved mid-February when several businesses just south of the city reported burglaries.
Diesel trucks, welding equipment, generators, trailers and stereos were stolen from businesses and homes, detectives said. Hunting, boating and camping equipment also were taken.
Dye and Hethcock estimated between $250,000 and $500,000 in property was stolen by the ring.