The Houston Police Department have announced an unprecedented number of arrests connected to a theft ring that involved stealing vans and trailers filled with expensive music gear from touring musicians.
Police arrested 130 people involved in the gear theft ring after an extensive undercover investigation. At a press conference, authorities said more arrests would likely occur in the coming weeks.
According to the Houston PD, the theft ring specifically targeted big ticket items and frequented areas like concert venues where they could quickly steal large quantities of goods. In one instance, a business lost their entire inventory of motorcycles overnight.
“These thieves were stealing anything and everything they could put their hands on. They went after trailers they saw parked on the streets of Greater Houston.” Lt. Mike Osina of the Houston Police Department said.
Among those arrested were gang members and suspects with lengthy criminal histories. The 130 arrests have resulted in over 200 charges.
“And to date the amount of property recovered is estimated to be upwards of $2 million dollars. In the course of this past year, this collaborative effort, through cooperation and communication, flexibility and a focused work ethic has led to the dismantling of this criminal enterprise.” Captain Edwards of the Houston PD said.
Surprisingly, police say that the gear was not sold through pawn shops but rather by word of mouth and through the transfer of some of the goods to Mexico.
Earlier this year, The Black Lillies had their van and the attached trailer that was filled with gear stolen while they performed inside of a Houston venue. As a result of the theft, the Tennessee band was stranded in Houston with no way home.
Deputies were able to find the van several days later, but all of their gear was gone and the trailer was never recovered. Police say that the sophisticated crime ring was selling the gear on the black market to willing buyers.
In May of 2015, country music singer Zane Williams lost his van and a trailer filled with musical instruments. A 100 year old violin was lost as a result of the theft.
“Yep, they stole my van and everything in my van, then they stole my trailer too,” Williams said.
As a result of the large scale investigation and the subsequent arrests, Houston will almost certainly be a safer place for musicians hoping to tour there.