Although two suspects were already arrested, the Coryell County Sheriff's Office believes a much larger crime ring is responsible for a chain of stolen items that have recently been making their way from Coryell County to pawn shops in Waco and Temple, according to law enforcement.
Back on Sept. 11, deputies said they received information suggesting a Coryell County resident had been involved in several burglaries and thefts in multiple Central Texas counties. Authorities in Bosque County -- one of those counties involved-- obtained an arrest warrant for that Coryell County resident, who was identified as 35-year-old Billy Tate Shoaf, according to investigators. At the time, Shoaf was already a "person of interest" in multiple criminal offenses in Coryell County, according to Chief Deputy Mark Wilcox.
A handful of law enforcement members went to serve the warrant at 110 Old Waco St. in Gatesville on Sept. 11. While there, Wilcox said they saw multiple stolen items in plain view -- causing them to secure the site and obtain a search warrant.
"Upon executing said search warrant numerous items were located that were connected to burglaries in Coryell County has well as Bosque and Bell Counties," Wilcox wrote in a press release. "During this time further information was obtained from concerned citizens and through evidence at the residence on Old Waco concerning other stolen items stored in a storage facility in Gatesville leased by the suspect."
The following day, on Sept. 12, authorities said they obtained a separate search warrant and located more stolen items. By the end of that day, deputies said they believed somewhere between $100,000 and $150,000 worth of stolen property had been recovered. Small quantities of marijuana (less than two ounces) and methamphetamine (less than a gram) were also recovered, Wilcox added.
Shoaf was arrested at the scene, along with his girlfriend 24-year-old Ashley Nicole Mitchell, who was charged with felony theft and possession of a controlled substance. Shoaf faces no fewer than eight different charges. As of late Wednesday afternoon, he was still in jail on a bond totaling $110,000.
"I think we are just at the tip of the iceberg on it," Coryell County Sheriff Scott Williams told Channel 6. "The amount that was stolen...there's no way one man and woman did this by themselves."
As of last week, Wilcox said "numerous warrants" for burglary and theft from multiple counties were being completed and would be served to Mitchell and Shoaf.
During the course of their investigation, law enforcement officials said everything from stolen ATVs to archery equipment has been recovered.
Meanwhile, investigators have continued to collect evidence and encouraged anyone whose belongings were stolen to come forward and file a report. If residents in Central Texas have deer leases or any other properties located out of town, Wilcox urged them to check on their properties as soon as possible.
As of Wednesday, more than a dozen people had come forward to claim their stolen property. And, several other people had been searching local pawn shops for missing items, according to law enforcement.
The Coryell County Sheriff's Office is located at 510 E. Leon St. in Gatesville. Deputies can be reached on the non-emergency line by calling (254) 865-7201. If you have an immediate emergency or believe a break-in is happening right then, please call 911 instead.