Technology Tracks Stolen Oilfield Equipment From Martin County

By Sylvia Gonzalez
NewsWest 9

MARTIN COUNTY - Oilfield theft is increasing across the Basin but now some companies are fighting back with new technology.

"This is the first time I have ever had a company that can say, 'hey I got GPS on it, this is where it's at," Deputy Chance Rainer with the Martin County Sheriff Department, said.

Deputy Rainer says that in all his years of law enforcement, he has never seen an oil company go the extra mile to track down stolen equipment until last week. A call came in from Big D Equipment reporting a generator and trailer had been stolen from a location and that it had a tracking device. That device made it possible to locate the stolen goods over 400 miles away.

"The oilfield companies are starting to use a lot of GPS on their equipment and that's how we were able to kind of track this thing down and we found it in Van Zandt County, which is on the other side of Dallas," Rainer said.

Rainer says that business owners don't always keep all the information on their equipment, making the recovery of stolen items difficult at times. But by installing GPS tracking, that can make the recovery time much faster.

"I think it's a good thing that oilfield companies are starting to do it, it makes our jobs a little bit easier. A lot of this stuff, they don't write the serial numbers down or any of the information so when we actually have some GPS coordinates, and like I said we found this thing all the way up in Dallas. So when things get that far away, it becomes harder to locate," Rainer said.

Oilfield theft has increased during the oil boom, but this one had a positive outcome.

"Since the boom started, our call load is drastically increased. I'd say we are getting at least one to two cases a day, like I say this is one of the first ones that I've had were we can actually follow up and have some good information as far as GPS to find it," Rainer said.

The cost of the trailer and generator totaled over $15,000 making it a felony. Rainer says the person who stole the equipment will face charges.