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  1. #1
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    May 2005
    Heart of Dixie

    Texas-Truck Thefts Linked To Human Smuggling

    Truck Thefts Linked To Human Smuggling

    Thursday, 05 Apr 2012, 10:32 PM CDT

    Since the beginning of the year, police have linked 170 truck thefts here in Austin to human smuggling.

    Last week Jordan Estrada walked out of this movie theater off I-35 and Stassney to an empty parking spot.

    "I was pretty depressed. I was very depressed. I didn't know what to do. I was careless," said Estrada.

    His 2005 Chevy Z-71 had been stolen.

    Austin police found it in an apartment parking lot along with five other stolen trucks two miles away.

    "It had some scratches on each side. My papers out of the glove box were trashed, my new tools were gone, everything was gone,” Estrada said. "You do what you're supposed to do you lock it, put it in a well lit area and it still went."

    Apd lt. Pat Cochran's truck was halfway to Mexico when DPS Troopers spotted it.

    The driver led the Troopers on a chase and ditched the truck in a field. All of the occupants ran off.

    "All the body panels were damaged, the columns had been cracked," said Cochran.

    It's happening daily in Austin.

    "A thief can enter a truck in under 15 seconds," said Cochran.
    Detective Earl Bolls says the thieves are illegal immigrants and they're being paid by coyotes to travel to the border and transport more illegal aliens to big cities across the state.

    "It is a very well organized ring of profession truck thieves, training their thieves equipping their thieves," said Bolls.

    Bolls says the thieves are stealing all types of large four door or extended cab pick ups. Chevy and GMC are the most sought after.
    "They remove the rear seat in the extended cab," said Bolls. “They take out the console and they stuff as many people inside as they can. You can get 8 or 9 people inside, in a 4-door truck you can get up to 15 people inside the truck."

    Putting a stop to it, he says will take hard work from both officers and the public.

    "We're out in parking lots, we're out running license plates that don't belong to a particular vehicle," said Bolls. "The things you can do are the mechanical locks like you would put on the steering wheel, like the club. Or a chain that links between the brake pedal and the steering wheel. Those are things that the thieves simply aren't going to be able to defeat."

    The illegal immigrants are making big money off this transportation operation. Police say thieves can fit up to 15 people in some of the big trucks. Each person is charged at least $1,000 for the ride.

    The trucks meanwhile are trashed and the thieves are getting away with it.

    "They're picking up people who have crossed over the border on foot. They're putting a truckload of people, literally a truckload inside the truck in the San Antonio, Houston Dallas/Fort Worth area. They're dropping these people off and they're charging them money and they will continue to extort money from them over a period of time for the transportation,” said Bolls.

    Bolls says they make three to four runs and sometimes up to six, before dumping the truck.

    “Most of the ways we are recovering them is when the border patrol or the constables come up on a truck and they turn around and go after the truck,” said Bolls. “The thieves are simply driving out into the fields using the big heavy 4x4 suspensions where we can't get to them in Crown Victorias and things like that. They'll drive them a quarter of a mile into a field, through a fence and then everybody bails out of the truck and runs in different directions."

    Police are rarely able to make an arrest because the thieves are good at running away.

    Read more: Truck Thefts Linked To Human Smuggling
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