Two Kyle residents have been indicted in connection with a major 20-person crime ring that stole more than $765,000 worth of heavy construction equipment over several years.
An investigation into the theft ring, which involved 18 law enforcement agencies, confirmed the involvement of members and associates of criminal gangs, including the Aryan Brotherhood and Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, according to a press release.
William Shawn Lawrence, 42, of Kyle, and Sonya Elayne Brown, 38, of Kyle, were indicted in June on theft of property greater than $200,000, a first-degree felony, and engaging in organized criminal activity, a first degree felony. Both were also indicated on fraudulent use or possession of identifying information of 50 or more items, also a first-degree felony.
Sixteen other people, several of them from Travis County and Caldwell County, were also indicted for their participation in the ring. Two other men were recently arrested in connection with the crime.
Spearheading the bust was San Marcos Police, which began its investigation in August 2017 when they discovered a reportedly stolen trailer while investigating a suspicious vehicle call.
SMPD expanded its investigation after two more pieces of stolen equipment were recovered in September and October 2017, according to the release. That includes a Kubota excavator worth more than $50,000.
The department’s subsequent investigation encompassed multiple years and included a handful of agencies, including the Hays County Sheriff’s Office, Kyle Police and Buda Police.
Authorities also identified “large groups of individuals” responsible for theft, storage and sale of the stolen equipment. The suspects are accused of stealing equipment from construction sites and burglarizing buildings and vehicles across the state.
Other stolen items included electronics, jewelry, as well as firearms. The suspects worked with their criminal networks to resell the stolen goods for money or “significant quantities” of methamphetamine. Several people within the crime ring were also accused of selling guns and narcotics.
Kelly Bomersbach, San Marcos Police commander, said the investigation represented the “tenacity” of Detective Patrick Aubry.
“Through Detective Aubry’s persistence and hard work, a vast criminal ring has been exposed, and hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment has been recovered. Detective Aubry received invaluable support from area crime analysts and other law enforcement agencies to complete this investigation,” Bomersbach said.
Authorities also seized five firearms from three convicted felons, according to the release. They also obtained marijuana, meth and a “large quantity” of stolen documents that contained addresses, identification numbers, credit card numbers and account numbers from unknowing victims.
Brown is being held on $250,000 bond, which includes two unrelated charges, while Lawrence is being held on $350,000 bond. Both Brown and Lawrence were originally booked into the Hays County Jail in October 2017, according to Hays County records.