Oil Field Theft Task Force Called a Success

By Camaron Abundes   
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND- After one year, the Oil Field Theft Task force, comprised of deputies from Andrews, Midland, and Ector County along with the FBI officials, has logged 25 arrests and recovered 1.5 million dollars in oil field equipment and raw materials, according to FBI spokesperson Matt Espenshade.

"We can't do it on our own, " Ector County Sheriff Mark Donaldson said the task force allows the agencies to work together to build strong cases against oil patch thieves.

Each County devotes a deputy and covers the base salary for the employee. Federal dollars pay for the deputies vehicle, gas, and overtime.

"We employ some good sophisticated, investigative techniques; even putting things out there as bait to see who bites," Espenshade said.

The money seized during arrests is divided up between the agencies and officials also work to recover any losses incurred by a company.

Espenshade did not have figures available for the annual budget as of Wednesday morning but said the operating costs amount to about 200-300 thousand dollars. Espenshade said what they've recovered in the year is far more than the cost of running the task force operations.

"If it costs the companies money it's probably being passed on to the consumer," Espenshade said the goal of the task force is to curtail those costs. "It makes a lot of sense to put us all together to share the intelligence and work operations jointly."