BEAUMONT, TX (News Release) - By Jena Johnson - email
NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Michael Birdwell was pulled over for a traffic violation. Authorities had no idea they'd find evidence linking him to 21 theft cases.
"Upon searching through the vehicle and observing some of the things involved, we were able to discover some things that linked back to the oil field site," said Nacogdoches County Sheriff Thomas Kerss.
Sheriff Thomas Kerss says pieces of stolen metal and oil field machinery were discovered in Birdwell's car and home. For months, he says Birdwell targeted oil fields in the northwest part of the county, costing companies hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"Specific piece of equipment that he may get a few dollars or maybe even a few hundred dollars for at a metal recycling facility, but they may have cost the company several thousand dollars to replace,"said Kerss.
A costly crime that Kerss says continues to trouble the East Texas area.
"Now that those salvage metal prices have risen again, we're starting to see an increase in those types of theft activities," said Kerss.
With Birdwell's arrest, Kerss hopes it puts a dent in the number of metal theft cases. Their office is still calculating exactly how much damage Birdwell allegedly caused.
"By the time we're all said and done we very well could be looking at a first or second degree felony offense," said Kerss.