DURANT, OK -- For eight months, someone's been swiping thousands of dollars worth of tires and wheels from more than a dozen Texoma cities. Police say the thief hit car dealerships, then turned around and sold the loot for a profit on Craigslist. But tonight, they say the man responsible is behind bars.
On three different occasions, Pat Lynch, the co-owner of Red River Ford in Durant, was startled by what he saw when he arrived at the lot.
"It wasn't tough to notice because we had two trucks that were up on blocks," Lynch said.
Up on blocks, and the tires and wheels missing.
"In total I think we lost between 16 and 20 tires. So, cost roughly $25,000 dollars," Lynch said.
This dealership wasn't the only one targeted. Durant police say since February several Texoma police departments reported tires and wheels being stolen -- at least 73 sets from at least 13 cities, resulting in more than $500,000 in damages.
"It's extremely frustrating because they didn't just take the tire. They took the tire and the wheel. So, you gotta order the tire and wheel from the manufacturer," Lynch said.
But last week, Durant officers finally caught the suspect in the act.
A Durant officer was patrolling the area near Larry Dyson Buick and GMC and noticed someone kneeling down near the trucks. The suspect ran off, but left his car behind.
Investigators say the next day 33-year-old Stephan Sumner confessed to the crimes.
Police say Sumner figured out the nuts and bolts of his operation. In one night, he would leave a dealership with 8 to 12 wheels and tires, which are about $1,200 each.
"He had a pretty extensive operation if you will," Detective Drew Hale said.
They say Sumner said he sold the stolen items on Craigslist. He's in the Collin County Jail facing charges from at least 13 different police departments.
Detective Drew Hale says the tires are long gone, but has a message for anyone making online purchases from private sellers.
"If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is," Hale said.