By: Sarah Snyder
REAGAN COUNTY - A slew of crime in Reagan County has officials working overtime to catch the culprits. And it's West Texas' biggest industry that's suffering the greatest loss.
Officials in Reagan County tell NewsWest 9, just since April, they've worked double the normal amount of cases. That's all thanks to the current oilfield activity, but it's those oilfield companies that are getting hit the hardest.
"Anytime we have a decline in oilfield activity in this part of the country, we tend to have an increase in thefts and crimes of that nature," Reagan County Sheriff Jeff Garner, said. "I think it's just a matter of people being frustrated, they're looking for a way for people to feed their families, so they resort to going out and stealing other people's stuff trying to make a living."
Apache Corporation is one of the companies hit the hardest. Companies all over Big Lake have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in software and equipment.
"We're in a very competitive business," Bill Mintz with Apache Corporation, said. "Our operations in West Texas have to be competitive with oil producers all over the world. Crime increases our costs and makes it difficult for Apache to be competitive on a worldwide basis."
The county says it's most likely emerging from the outside.
"A lot of the oilfield stuff is outside people," Sheriff Garner said. "People coming in from outside the county doing these types of things."
The Sheriff says while the oilfield is prospering, companies are less likely to report theft. But now any loss is a big loss, and officials have dealt with a growing pile of burglary reports and it's raking in plenty of overtime hours.
"Like any law enforcement agency, we could use more help," Sheriff Garner said. "We could use at least one more officer just to help with the caseload that they're dealing with right now."
And it's not just happening in the Reagan County oilfields homes have been hit and assault charges filed and thieves even targeted the school.
"Two guys broke in and stole some computer and camera equipment," Sheriff Garner said. "We're not sure what the motive was behind it. It appeared it was a couple of young people making really poor decisions."