by Emily Waldrep
Tyler County Sheriff's Department, with Texas Game Wardens, were able to make a huge arrest and return a large number of stolen items to the citizens of Tyler County on July 31 after Game Wardens located a stolen four wheeler.
Deputies were notified by Game Warden Brandon Mosley, who was out at a residence on Bush Lake Road, that he had located a Polaris ATV, confirmed that it was stolen and identified the person at the residence as Robert E. Keys. Keys had outstanding warrants in Hardin County, Tyler County and Liberty County, and some of the warrants would require Keys to be held without bond.
"The four wheeler was stolen on one of the county's case numbers that we had worked," said Chief Deputy Phil Ryan. "We had been looking actively and searching daily for this suspect."
Wardens Mosely and Eddins entered the residence and tried to search it. A female at the residence said that Keys was not home, but the Game Wardens found him in a room that had been padlocked from the outside.
Keys was arrested and Mirandized, and was cooperative with officers.
In a truck that belonged to Keys, Wardens found a .22 rifle outfitted with a silencer that belonged to Keys. Because he is a convicted felon, it was unlawful for him to be in possession of a weapon. They also found seven other rifles and two shotguns in the residence. The guns had been reported stolen, along with two other black powder rifles.
According to Ryan, Keys had also entered a residence and stolen a safe which contained nine additional guns. The safe was unlocked and open, so deputies and game wardens were easily able to retrieve and identify the stolen items inside, as well as the stolen safe.
Deputies also found a stolen ATV 4-wheeler, jewelry, tool boxes, tools, chain saws and other saws, electric drills, impact wrenches, wood splitters, deer stands, speakers, stereo systems, welding machines, generators and additional smaller items.
Ryan said that they were able to contact many of the victims who were then able to come claim their stolen belongings.
"We have turned over quite a bit of the items pictured to the victims," Ryan said.
Key was arrested on charges of two counts of Burglary of a Habitation, two counts of Burglary of a Building, one count of Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by a Felon, Possession of a Prohibited Weapon and several warrants out of Hardin and Liberty County.
His bonds totaled $134,000 out of Tyler County, and warrants out of the other counties will hold no bond.
"This was a huge bust for our county and all the surrounding counties," Ryan said. "Due to Keys involvement in the drug trade, he was a thief on a spree and it was important he be taken off of the streets. We had been inundated with reports that had to be taken from people losing their property."
Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford also says that the arrest of Keys will be extremely beneficial to the county.
"We know we are in a fight each and every day, but one thing this department takes personal is people who will take property from another person, and the drug users," Weatherford said.
"You are not welcome here in Tyler County and we want to make sure we are sending that message. We want to continue to make sure our citizens are protected each and every day."