ECTOR COUNTY - There's a rising crime trend in Ector County, and it's welders who are the victims. Over the weekend, officials have received numerous reports of their vehicles being stolen, stripped, and then left behind.
"The vehicle was a means of transportation of the equipment in the back. They weren't interested in the vehicle," Public Information Officer, Sgt Gary Duesler said.
The victims didn't want to be on camera, but showed us what was left behind. That includes a broken lock, ransacked and muddied bed, and an ignition that was split into pieces. That was just one of the vehicles found on on Oakhill and 57th. Just up the road, the victim's friend's truck was left in a similar condition.
Duesler said there's easily tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment, considering a welder alone is pretty expensive. "Usually it's bolted down. And that's probably why they took [the truck] is because they could take it to wherever they want, take their time on dismantling it," he explained.
According to one of the victims, the suspects will do anything to get what they're after. He showed us the bent bed rail of another truck where the sides were also left with holes where they used a blow torch to get at the machines. "They probably used his own torch to do it" the victim said.
Officials told us these kinds of crimes have been shooting up, especially because it's so easy to find a place to sell it and make some big bucks. Duesler said even though pawn shops are usually on the the lookout "because they're legitimate," others can help perpetuate the crime. "If you've got this guy who steals my welding equipment and then he takes it across the street to this guy who's not so honest either because he can get a really good deal, hey he's making money, everybody's happy except the guy who got it stolen," he explained.
He added that if they want it bad enough they're gonna get it, but that "none of this equipment is getting shot over." If anyone has suspicions about people being in their yard messing around their recommended to call the authorities and let them handle it.
One of the victims has also offered to pay anyone who has information that leads to an arrest in this case.