Gear Theft Leads To 130 Arrests
The crime ring, as reported by KTRK-TV, was busted up by what the Houston Police Department dubbed “Operation Wheels and Deals” and included the Pasadena and Baytown police departments, Department of Public Safety and the Department of Homeland Security.
The operation began in April 2015 and the ring was apparently uncovered as police investigated the high-profile theft of musician Zane Williams’ trailer and gear, including a 100-year-old fiddle.
According to SavingCountryMusic.com, the thefts of trailers and gear had become so widespread that some musicians refused to perform in Houston.
The website had previously dubbed Houston “The Stolen Music Gear Capital of the World.” Captain Daryn Edwards of the HPD told the website that during the investigation of the Williams theft, “our burglary and theft detective began to suspect a large criminal enterprise that were involved in targeting big ticket items, usually transported via large trailers, in which the trailer and all of its contents were stolen.”
Police told KTRK that charges range from narcotics to aggravated robbery and assault and engaging in organized crime. The ring allegedly began as a group of friends stealing “big ticket” items from trailers and storing the stolen property at the homes and property of family and friends.
“Their job was to steal,” a Houston police officer reportedly said at a June 30 press conference. “They woke up in the morning, got dressed…and they went shopping, looking for something to steal. They knew what they were doing.”
Approximately $2 million worth of stolen property was recovered.