The criminal stole nine new Volkswagens in Houston before his caper began to unravel on U.S. 77 just south of Refugio.
Sheriff Robert Bolcik said the thief took advantage of the New Year’s Day holiday when the employees of a Houston transport company were home with their families.
“The company‘s driver picked up the Volkswagens at the port and took them to the yard in Houston,” Bolcik said. “The driver then went home.”
Investigators believe the thief broke into the yard and headed south to the Rio Grande Valley with the contraband. But something unexpected happened.
“One of the Volkswagens came loose and fell off the truck,” Bolcik said.
As 911 lines lit up from passersby reporting what they believed to be a one-vehicle wreck, something odd was discovered.
The wheels and interior were still covered in plastic. Investigators then turned their sites toward vehicles being towed until a 911 call came in from Kelley Road.
“Eight brand-new vehicles were in the ditch,” Bolcik said. “We figured we had a theft on our hands.”
No reports of stolen vehicles had been reported, so investigators began calling dealers in the area.
“The vehicles were going to a dealership in San Antonio, but because they were still in the transport yard and everyone was off for the holiday, the vehicles were still in limbo,” Bolcik said.
Complicating matters were reports of people running through the brush on Kelley Road. Investigators tracked them down.
“They had nothing what-so-ever to do with the theft,” Bolcik said. “They were hunters.”
The sheriff said the thief probably knew law enforcement officers would be hot on the trail searching for a transport truck hauling vehicles, so he ditched them.
The thief turned onto Kelley Road, left the remaining eight Volkswagens and headed back to Houston.
“The tractor was found abandoned in Houston, but the trailer is still missing,” Bolcik said. “The eight Volkswagens were fine and were taken back to Houston.”
The sheriff said if the car had not fallen off, the thief most likely would have made it to the Valley before anyone realized they were missing.