Oilfield Theft Becoming a Problem In Martin County

By Sylvia Gonzalez
NewsWest 9

MARTIN COUNTY - Martin County is seeing an increase the number of oilfield thefts. We're talking on average about one a day. Now law enforcement officials are looking to turn that number around.

Martin County Sheriff John Woodward spoke with NewsWest 9 about what could be fueling the thefts.

"We've actually had everything from the gloves that the guys use to uniforms, boots, a lot of tools. It's a lot of things that some of the guys have to purchase themselves, there is an underground market for that so you see a lot of those things being stolen," Woodward said

On Wednesday, a pulling unit was burglarized and the vandals managed to get in the dog house and get uniforms, equipment and tools but that was not the only oilfield related theft that happened on that day.

"A salt water disposal station just west of town was hit yesterday (Wednesday). Someone stole around $1,500 worth of fuel and vandalized a vehicle that was on that location," Woodward said.

Woodward says even though we are only two weeks into the year, they have already seen more oilfield thefts as compared to this time last year. He says they constantly patrol areas, where thefts have occurred but says it's hard to cover 1,000 square miles.

Woodward says companies do have internal security but with more people moving in, it's hard to keep up.

"Our population as far as the county goes doubles daily, just from the influx of outside workforce coming in," Woodward said.

Woodward also says they have recently encountered other types of suspicious activity around Martin County.

"Just west of Stanton on Interstate 20, we did have a business that had what you could call a drive by shooting. What it appears, a subject or subjects drove by some time during the night and fired several rounds into the building," Woodward said.

He says they are doing everything they can to minimize oilfield burglaries.

"As far as being proactive, we have had departmental meetings starting off the year. We are getting our guys out at random places, at random times, just trying to have some place with high visibility and in some places more of a low visibility," Woodward said.

If you see any suspicious activity around any oilfield company or water station, you can call the Martin County Sheriff's Office at (432) 756-3336.