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Conoly decries 'serial burglaries'

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Bandera County Commissioners Court provided little that was newsworthy during the Thursday, Nov. 12, nuts and bolts meeting. However, during the Open Forum portion of the agenda, Clay Conoly, owner of the venerable Dixie Dude Ranch, had plenty to say.
Everyone's ears perked up at his mention of serial burglaries.
"We had three burglaries during July and August," he told the court, indicating that he believed the same people had been involved in all the break-ins. Conoly went on to say he had received "very little assistance" from the Bandera County Sheriff's office regarding the burglaries.
"The public needs to be warned about what is happening and to protect their property," Conoly said. "This will keep happening until something gets done."
When contacted about Conoly's contention, BCSO Chief Deputy Matt King acknowledged the incidents; he also noted that an investigation remains ongoing. King spoke only about two complaints that had been filed by Conoly. One involved tools that were believed to have been stolen by a former employee.
"The employee had been fired, but the tools were still in the back of his truck," King said. "The guy apparently hadn't unloaded them because he had been terminated shortly before officers arrived."
The former employee also gave investigators full access to his home and other buildings, King said. "Deputies searched everywhere and came up with nothing."
Another incident involved money that had been stolen from a safe at the dude ranch. This case is also case still under investigation.
"Mr. Conoly has asked us to polygraph his employees, which has been difficult to set up," King said. Apparently, the department uses a technician from ICE (United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement), who has been unavailable. Instead they have arranged for a polygraph expert from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to administer the tests.
"Originally Mr. Conoly wanted 12 employees to be polygraphed, but DPS said to narrow it down, so we settled on four," King explained. He added, however, "We can't make anyone take a polygraph test and, of course, the results are not admissible in court."
For his part, Conoly would just like to have something done. "There's been a lack of action on the part of the sheriff's department regarding the burglaries," he said. "They don't see it as a priority and I just wanted to let the court know."
While comissioners can listen to their constituents' concerns, state laws prohibit them from commenting on or discussing anything brought up during the open forum.
Summing up the situation, King said, "Sometimes the hands of justice don't move as fast as people would like."