Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

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November 30, 2012

The Mild Bunch

Passive railroad thieves don’t exactly commit the great train robbery

CHEROKEE COUNTY — They weren't the smoothest of railroad bandits.

   They weren't riding horses. They certainly didn't hop aboard a slow-moving train in this portion of East Texas with the intention of stealing money and gold.

   No, these three ne'er-do-wells simply set out on foot, walking down the tracks pulling a homemade cart that ran on the rails.

   Inside the cart, they carried pilfered railroad spikes and "hooks" they stole from the railroad bed with the intention of selling them as scrap iron. (Street value not immediately available.)

   There wasn't a lot of adrenalin involved in this type of crime. But it's probably safe to say that  Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid and  Jesse James probably wouldn't have approved of their modern-day successors.

   The three bandits first were noticed about 1:45 p.m. Wednesday. Game Warden Brian Bearden spotted them while responding to an unrelated call in the area.

  Suspected culprits Lance Lee Adams, 22, Briana Michelle Hale, 18, and  Dustin Scott Massey, 24 – all from the Troup-Mixon area – were seen walking down the track near County Road 4807 pulling that cart, according to a release from Cherokee County Sheriff's Capt. John R Raffield.

   When Bearden called out to the trio to stop, they responded by ditching some of their loot in the woods.

   Bearden ultimately  was able to detain one of the suspects, but the other two escaped.

   The game warden was able to determine the identity and possible location of the two missing suspects while in the presence of the one he had captured.

 Bearden called Cherokee County Sher-iff's Department and requested backup. A deputy who arrived at the scene traveled with the game warden to a residence in the 2900 Block of Hwy-177 in the Mixon Com-munity.

 The re-maining two suspects were located there, and taken into custody without incident.

  All three were taken to the Cherokee County Jail. The  spikes, hooks and the home-made cart they pilfered were brought to the Sheriff's Office as evidence.

 The property that belongs to the railroad will be counted, photographed and released back to the railroad, reports show. The cart will remain with the sheriff's office as evidence.

   All three of the accused railroad burglars were arrested and jailed on suspicion of engaging in organized criminal activity and interference with railroad property. Bond was set at $4,000 for each suspect.

  They might face more charges if authorities find more damage to the railroad than they detected at the time of the arrests, Raffield said.

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