Law enforcement officials say a major crime ring that had been hitting Tyler and Liberty Counties has now struck here in Jasper County. Late Wednesday night to early Thursday morning, Jasper County Chief Deputy Glenn Blank says that four pickup trucks were stolen from the Rayburn Country area, and Jasper Police Chief Gerald Hall says that two pickup trucks were stolen in the city limits of Jasper.

Meanwhile, Chief Hall said late Thursday afternoon that he had been in contact with state and federal authorities and they tell him that it's believed that the thefts are related to organized crime out of Mexico, and the trucks are used to transport illegal aliens from Mexico into the United States.

Hall issued an urgent warning for everyone to keep their vehicles locked with alarms set, and never leave a key in your vehicle. 

This comes just two days after KJAS News brought you the story of numerous crimes occurring in Tyler County, in which several vehicles were burglarized, and five pickup trucks were stolen in one night from the Wildwood Community.

Law enforcement officials say the thieves are targeting 4-wheel drive pickups along with large pickup trucks, 2500 series and above.

Jasper Police Chief Gerald Hall said that his officers began looking for the stolen vehicles after the crimes were discovered early Thursday morning in the Rayburn Country area, and at about 5:00 a.m. an officer happened to find himself behind a stolen truck on Live Oak Lane on the west side of Jasper. Hall said that truck, a 2006 Chevrolet, belonged to the Justice family on Creek Bend Drive.

Hall said the suspect fled from the officer, but soon wrecked out on Farm to Market Road 777 near Highway 190 West. Hall said the suspect fled into a wooded area, and despite officers and tracking dogs searching the area, he managed to elude capture.

Hall said another truck, a white Chevrolet 4-wheel drive, was also stolen overnight from a residence on Willow Drive.

KJAS News spoke to Captain Ken DeForre of the Liberty County Sheriff’s Department and he said that the thieves have been hitting their county pretty hard over the last two months, specifically stealing large pickup trucks. DeForre pointed out that not one single truck has been recovered, which he said may indicate that they are being taken to Mexico.

The following press release was issued by Jasper Police Chief Gerald Hall on Thursday afternoon:

On 6/20/19 in the early morning hours a car theft ring that has been plaguing Tyler and Liberty Counties found their way to Jasper County and City. The subjects stole a 2006 Blue Chevrolet 4door 4wheel drive from a residence located on Creek Bend Drive and another one, Red 2015 Ford from a residence located on Willow Drive. The owner of the vehicle on Creek Bend Drive heard his vehicle being stolen and called the Police Department who dispatched officers to the area and shortly thereafter located one of the vehicles and a pursuit ensued resulting in the stolen vehicle being wrecked and the occupant fleeing into the woods. Upon arrival of a k-9 unit, the subject was tracked but the trail turned cold. Evidence located inside the wrecked vehicle indicates the driver was of Hispanic descent. According to other law enforcement agencies (DPS Auto Theft & ICE), the majority of the vehicles have been Ford trucks, all the vehicles have been four door and most were four wheel drive. It is believed the vehicles are being used to transport undocumented aliens across the border into Texas. The subjects change the license plates and will only indicate as stolen if the VIN# is run. All the vehicles stolen by this ring have had the key in the ignition or somewhere inside the vehicle. Some of the vehicles were locked with the key inside the console. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE YOUR KEYS INSIDE YOUR VEHICLE OR YOUR VEHICLE UNLOCKED IF YOU OWN A VEHICLE MATCHING THE DESCRIPTION OF THE TARGETED VEHICLES.

Broadcast journalist & on-air personality - Rayburn Broadcasting Company - KJAS 107.3 FM in Jasper, TX and KFAH 99.1 FM in Pineland, TX