Game warden field notes: Yeti coolers hot commodity for South Texas thieves

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Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

From Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports

The Abominable Snowman: A game warden received a call with information about two Yeti coolers for sale on Craigslist. The warden and a DPS Criminal Investigation Division officer reviewed the listing and found the coolers pictured to be consistent with the description of two stolen coolers. The next day, the two officers contacted the seller, posing as possible buyers, and made arrangements to meet. When the officers inspected the coolers, they found the exact markings matching the missing property. When interviewed, the seller quickly admitted to taking the coolers and gave the location of the remaining stolen property. Six Yetis were recovered with an estimated value of $3,000. The individual was handed over to Willacy County investigators for processing.

Grass is Not Always Greener: TPWD game wardens, Texas Department of Public Safety, Smith County Sheriff’s Office, Tyler Police Department, FBI and the U.S. District Attorney’s office were all involved in the raid of a marijuana growing operation north of Tyler. The bust resulted in the seizing of more than 700 plants. Although no suspects were apprehended, DPS has several leads based on both the Smith County wardens’ knowledge of the area as well as contacts made while checking hunters near the property.

A Toy Story: A Smith County game warden was stopped at a red light when he noticed the driver of a car in front of him waving a pistol around. The driver was pointing the gun at the passengers and at one point was even pointing it at his own head. When the light turned green, the warden followed. He quickly contacted the Tyler Police Department and, together, they conducted a felony traffic stop on the vehicle. The gun turned out to be a toy. The driver, who was a juvenile, and four other passengers were found guilty of poor judgment. All were released to parents and went home safely.

Girls Just Want to Have Fun: When two Bowie County game wardens were patrolling a campground around Lake Wright Patman, they noticed a young female hiding behind a sign and a stack of beer cans on the side of the road. They turned the car around and came to find two juvenile females intoxicated and stealing beer from other campers. Citations were issued, and the juveniles were released to adults.

Looters Need Tans, Too: The Leon County Sheriff’s Office turned to a local game warden for help finding troublemaker they had dealt with in the past. The subject was believed to be in possession of stolen firearms. After a short search, the warden located a truck belonging to one of the men being sought, and a felony search warrant was served at that residence. The search proved fruitful, netting several stolen items. More information was received that led to two more houses being searched. At both residences, stolen items were found, ranging from firearms to a tanning bed. Several drug-related items were also seized during the investigation.

Bump, Set, Spiked: A Shelby County game warden observed a vehicle stopped in the middle of a county road and decided to conduct an investigative and welfare traffic stop. When the vehicle was pulled over, the driver got out after he saw the police lights had been activated. He seemed disoriented and showed signs of intoxication. While the game warden was back at his vehicle running the driver’s information, the man got back in his vehicle and proceeded down the road. A pursuit then occurred, lasting nearly 20 minutes and 15 miles through Shelby County. The chase finally ended when the vehicle was spiked. Multiple local law enforcement agencies assisted in the pursuit and spike deployment. The driver was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated and evading arrest with a vehicle. It was later discovered that the suspect had a warrant in Montgomery County for DWI.

Okie Dokie Smokie: A Bosque County landowner experiencing poaching and theft problems called his local game warden for help. After meeting with the landowner and touring his property, the warden was just about to return to his patrol activities when he observed a pickup truck at one of the landowner’s gates. The truck drove out and traveled down two county roads before hitting Highway 56. The vehicle had only headlights on, no taillights, so the warden conducted a traffic stop. The driver couldn’t provide a driver’s license or any documentation for the truck, but a records check on the driver revealed he had two outstanding warrants for theft. After further investigation, it was revealed the truck was stolen out of Oklahoma and the driver had intentionally installed Texas license plates and window decals which belonged to other vehicles. A search of the truck uncovered three pipes, one containing methamphetamine. Cases pending.

Love Bites: Two game wardens from Starr and Zapata County patrolling Falcon Lake had just finished seizing multiple illegal trotlines when they decided to check on a couple that was bank fishing near the boat ramp. Upon contact, the wardens discovered the male had an active protective order against the female. When the protective order was confirmed, the woman was arrested and transported to the Zapata County Jail.

Bright Lights, Bowie City: A Montague County game warden was traveling down Highway 81 in Bowie, having just dropped off his boat. On his way, an oncoming vehicle began flashing its bright lights rapidly, so the warden turned around and initiated a traffic stop. After stopping, the female front passenger instantly got out of the vehicle and began yelling that they were trying to find the WinStar Casino, located across the Red River in Oklahoma. She said she told the driver to flash the bright lights so someone would stop and give them directions. After the warden explained they were an hour away, he decided to check the vehicle, discovering multiple open containers of alcohol. The driver did not have any identification in his possession, and a records check came back invalid. It was determined the driver had given one of the aliases he had used in the past. The driver then admitted to just bonding out of Tarrant County Jail four hours prior, and that he did not possess a valid driver’s license. He was arrested and charges of failure to ID, open container and no driver’s license were filed.

Pursuit of the Man-Purse: A Cameron County game warden was stopped at a red light when he observed a male sprinting across a busy intersection with a black purse in his hands. After a short vehicle and foot pursuit, the warden was able to detain the individual. Within a minute, a Brownsville police officer showed up in pursuit of the vehicle for theft of a woman’s purse. The purse was found, and the subject was booked for theft.

Family Tides: The U.S. Coast Guard called for help to find a boater who had run aground and was not sure of his exact location. The marooned man thought he was near the mouth of the Arroyo Colorado, but before an exact location could be determined the stranded boater’s cell phone died. Two Cameron County game wardens began looking for the vessel, but the U.S. Coast Guard helicopter ultimately located it. Aboard the vessel were three kids and two adults. One of the adults had a preexisting medical condition, but all parties were okay. The wardens waited with them to guide a salvage vessel to the area and assist with removing the boat from the sand bar. All parties involved were exhausted but fine.

1 COMMENT

  1. Thats for the stories Will. Sadly, this happens with any high value item, but coolers, who would have thought. I think all to many people like myself leave our coolers in the truck bed and don’t think twice about someone snagging it out of there. Lesson learned!

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