Angelina Co. authorities: 3 boys do $65K worth of damage to Forest Service vehicles

HUDSON, TX (KTRE) - Angelina County Sheriff's Office deputies arrested two middle school-age boys late Wednesday night after they allegedly did approximately $65,000 worth of damage to fire vehicles parked at the Texas A&M Forest Service facility located behind Hudson ISD's main campus Tuesday.

Authorities have the name of the third juvenile suspect that is believed to have taken part in the mayhem, but that boy has not been taken into custody at this time. The first two suspects have already been processed and released into the custody of their parents.

"We want juveniles in Angelina County to know that we do have a juvenile jail facility," Angelina County Sheriff Greg Sanches said.

Because the suspects are all minors, authorities will not release their names. They will be charged with criminal mischief and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.

According to Sanches, it looked like the three boys came through the Hudson ISD softball fields before they entered the Texas A&M Forest Service facility around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday.  While they were there, the three juvenile suspects used an unknown object to break windshields, side glasses, or headlights on at least 12 Forest Service fire vehicles.

They boys climbed into three of the vehicles and drove them around. They wrecked one Forest Service vehicle by driving it under a trailer that had also been parked at the facility.

Sometime during the evening, the juvenile suspects also broke into a concession stand at the Hudson ISD softball fields and vandalized a nearby abandoned house. Sanches said the boys left some of the stolen candy at the house.

Kelly Scott, a staff forester with the Texas A&M Forest Service said no one was aware of the damage until about 5 a.m. the next morning, when a truck driver pulled into the facility to load some of the fire vehicles onto a trailer to haul them to a fire department in central Texas.

The vehicles are government surplus, Scott said. He explained government agencies like the military loan the trucks to the Texas A&M Forest Service, and that agency, in turn, loans the vehicles to fire departments all over the state.

"Once on loan, the property must be maintained by the fire department or emergency response cooperator as long as they have it in their possession," Scott said. "When the department no longer has need of the property, it must be re-issued to another department or returned to TFS for disposal.

Scott said the Department of Defense decides how many and which types of vehicles are no longer needed for military use. After the DoD make them available at military bases across the country, they are acquired by state agencies like the Texas A&M Forest Service to be used for firefighting and emergency response.

"TFS acquires and transports back to Texas as many usable vehicles as possible to be assessed and reassigned to VFDs," Scott said.

Because of the criminal mischief, the work load at the Forest Service facility will be delayed at least a week.

"We have a delivery schedule that has been established," Scott said. "It's been delaying us significantly. These trucks should've already been delivered to volunteer fire departments in the central Texas area. Our driver should've already returned by now; preparing to depart with another load."

According to the Forest Service official, the damage estimate was made by the ACSO. Repair and replacement costs are pending.

"It's going to come down to either parents paying and maybe some insurance involved," Sanches said. "It's really a wonder that one of the kids didn't get killed if not injured severely due to the wreck because the wreck was a lot of damage."

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