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2012-11-15

Copper thieves thwarted in city

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

A recent traffic stop not only led to arrests for possession of methamphetamine and paraphernalia, but also apparently solved a series of copper thefts in the municipality and perhaps Bandera County.
According to Bandera City Marshal Charlie Hicks, around midnight on Sept. 24, Deputy Marshal Ruben Nino observed two men in a white pickup truck skulking around the back of a Shell Service Station on Main Street. The men returned to their truck and left the premises, and Nino followed them in his marked patrol vehicle.
After the truck turned onto Montague Drive, Nino ran the license plate and learned it belonged to Hamilton Crawford Storrie, 49, a suspect in a copper theft. Nino called for backup from the Bandera County Sheriff's Office.
He pulled the pickup truck over near FM 1283 after observing what the officer characterized as "suspicious activity," Hicks said. At that time, Nino identified the driver of the truck as Travis Wayne Morgan. Storrie was a passenger in the vehicle.
When he arrived on the scene BCSO Sgt. Joe Hernandez discovered a black bag on the ground behind the suspect's vehicle, which contained methamphetamine and other narcotic paraphernalia. Hernandez opined that the bag had been dropped on the side of the road after the men realized a law enforcement officer was following their vehicle.
In short order, Storrie confirmed that Morgan had tossed the bag just prior to Nino stopping the vehicle. Both men were arrested and transported to the Bandera County Jail.
During an inventory of the contents of the pickup truck, officers discovered a spool of copper wire. Officers later confirmed that the wire had been stolen during a second robbery of D'Spain Sales and Service, Inc. on 11th Street. An earlier theft at D'Spain Electric had resulted in losses of $3,700.
During the course of the investigation, one of the suspects led law enforcement officers to a location on Panther Hollow in the Exotic Acres subdivision where the suspects had stripped the copper wire.
According to Hicks, Storrie and Morgan had purportedly been selling the purloined copper wire to purchase methamphetamine.
Commending his deputy marshal, Hicks said, "Ruben did a great job in this case. It was an exceptional job for a rookie officer."
He continued, "The arrest of the suspects will help deputies solve a lot of copper thefts that had occurred in the county."
Hicks also thanked the BCSO Criminal Investigation Divisions for their efforts in the case. "This is the kind of cooperation between law enforcement agencies that's so important to ensure the safety of our citizens and businesses."
Lt. Danny Sanchez is heading up the investigation at the sheriff's office. Citing an on-going investigation, he offered no further information.
Both Storrie and Morgan remain incarcerated. Storrie has been charged with possession of a controlled substance. He also has an outstanding misdemeanor warrant from Bexar County. Morgan has also been charged with possession of a controlled substance. He was being dogged by a misdemeanor warrant to revoke his probation.