updated 9:22 PM UTC, Jul 8, 2020

Man caught after Jeep theft

by Emily Waldrep

Tyler County Sheriff's Department reports that a Jeep was stolen from Bush Lake Hunting Club in Fred about 9 a.m. Friday, May 17. Deputy Jeremy Byrum responded to the scene and met with the Beaumont owner of the Jeep.

Deputies later received information that around 9:45 a.m. the Jeep was spotted at Fred Grocery with the doors, bumpers, winch, and license plates removed. According to Sheriff Bryan Weatherford, deputies remained in the Fred area and patrolled CR 4700, attempting to locate the Jeep.

At 1 p.m., deputies talked with a resident of the area who reported that he saw some tire tracks off of McGallion Road in Hardin County that resembled Jeep tracks. National Park Service Ranger Mike Hughes responded to assist the Sheriff's deputies in locating the Jeep. After some searching, authorities located a white Dodge pickup, along with the Jeep, stuck on a pipeline near Timber Slough Road.

Law enforcement noticed a male, identified as Joshua Ratcliff, age 27, leaving the Jeep and walking down the pipeline. When Ratcliff arrived at the deputies' vehicles, he was immediately detained. Ratcliff admitted to taking the Jeep without permission, and led officers to the location where he dumped the doors and bumpers.

There were three women and one man back at the Jeep and pickup, and Hardin County authorities were contacted and arrived for an investigation. Hardin County deputies discovered methamphetamine in the white Dodge truck, along with other assorted paraphernalia.

Hardin County will be filing the appropriate charges.

Ratcliff was charged with Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, along with other charges out of Hardin County.

"I want to thank A-1 Wrecker Service, along with my deputies and Ranger Mike Hughes, " Weatherford said. "The day shift officers and all of the personnel who went to work at 9 a.m. got done with this case and arrived home at about 12:30 a.m, and I just want to commend everybody for staying on this."

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