BEEVILLE – A 37-year-old man suspected of stealing a pickup from a Beeville convenience store early Monday apparently was in custody in Corpus Christi about 2 1/2 hours later.
Beeville Police Chief Robert J. Bridge said the suspect, 37-year-old Brian Dale Robinson, was arrested at about 8 a.m. after crashing the pickup he stole here into the gate at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi.
Bridge and Detective Lt. Ken Jefferson confirmed that the suspect had been inside a Stripes convenience store at 1620 E. FM 351 at the road’s intersection with the U.S. Highway 181 Bypass when he apparently noticed a customer had left his truck running after leaving the vehicle.
Witnesses told BPD officers that Robinson left the store, realized the vehicle was running, got behind the wheel and drove away from the store, headed south.
Officers here immediately sent out a “be on the lookout” (BOLO) message to law enforcement agencies south of the county.
Not long after the message was sent to other agencies, deputies in San Patricio County noticed the 2018 Dodge Ram 3500 flatbed truck driving through their county, and they began pursuit.
As the vehicle thief stayed in the lead, officers from several other police agencies, including Sinton, Taft and Portland, joined the pursuit toward the Harbor Bridge entering Corpus Christi.
Bridge said he believed Corpus Christi police joined the chase as the suspect crossed the bridge and headed toward NAS Corpus Christi.
The chief said federal authorities became involved when the chase ended at the naval air station.
In addition to vehicle theft charges, reports revealed that the victim had left two handguns and a 9mm magazine in the truck when he entered the convenience store.
According to Jefferson, the suspect had one of the firearms on him as police moved in to arrest him.
Bridge said he had been informed that because the suspect had a firearm on him and firearms in the vehicle on federal property, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms had joined the investigation.
Bridge said that, as yet, the only charge Robinson faces in Beeville is for the unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.
That offense is a state jail felony, punishable by a term of up to two years in a state jail facility and a fine of as much as $10,000.
The chief said the suspect also could face a charge of theft of a firearm. The degree of punishment for a conviction on that charge would depend on the value of the gun taken. That offense could be filed as a misdemeanor or a state jail felony.
Bridge is not sure what federal charges Robinson could face for driving onto U.S. military property and for having a firearm on his body when he was apprehended.
The chief did not know what address the suspect was using. He was told that Robinson was in town working with a carnival that was at the Bee County Expo Center over the weekend.
Bridge said the incident is a good reminder for anyone who leaves his or her vehicle to purchase fuel or enter a business to buy something.
“Never leave your vehicle when the engine is running,” the chief said. Also, no one should leave the keys in the ignition of a vehicle, even if just pumping fuel.
Bridge said all drivers should shut off the engine, take the key out of the ignition and put it in a pocket or in a purse outside of the vehicle.
In addition, no one should ever leave a firearm inside an unlocked and unattended vehicle.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.