STANTON - They're filthy and rusty but they're worth a lot of money. Investigators say that could explain why nearly 800 joints of oil piping have been stolen.
According to Martin County Sheriff, John Woodward, the thefts come and go in phases.
"It was quiet for a while and then we started missing a lot more pipe," he said.
Officials say the theft happened over the course of a week or two. Workers noticed that the piping was missing and the story goes like other stories that officials have dealt with in the past.
"A lot of the guys we've made contact with or arrest have given statements that they operate during business hours to not be detected," Woodward said.
He added that many of them would be in unsuspicious vehicles that appear to actually belong at the oil field.
Each tube weighs about a couple hundred pounds so officials say although one person might be able to carry it, most of the time it would take at least two people or special equipment to do the job.
"The amount or volume that was stolen was probably a company type vehicle with a loader or a forklift," Woodward said.
Investigators say 350 joints of oil pipe were stolen at one location in Martin County and 175 joints of oil pipe were taken at each of two locations in Glasscock County. Woodward said that you could basically throw darts at a map to where a couple of the smaller amounts were taken from.
"When you see a smaller amount stolen like maybe 20 joints, a lot of times that may be an individual that's gonna build a fence," he said.