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Semi truck theft is on the rise in the Texas Panhandle, officials say


Three rigs were stolen in Amarillo just this week; but that isn’t the only place experiencing truck theft. 

A whopping three semi truck thefts have occurred in Amarillo in the last week, and officials say it may be a rising trend. 

According to the Amarillo Police Department, semi truck theft is somewhat rare in the area due to the skillset needed to even get the big rigs started, so the three thefts in the last week have officials puzzled. In fact, up until this last week, only five total semi truck thefts were reported in Amarillo for the entire year. 

“We normally don’t see a lot of 18 wheelers being stolen, you have to have a common knowledge of how to drive them. Most people don’t have that,” said Tammy Chervenka, crime prevention coordinator for APD.

Of the three recent thefts, the most puzzling is one captured on a driver-facing camera on November 30th. In the video, the thief can be seen successfully driving the truck out of the lot, headset and all. However, shortly after the successful robbery, the thief set the rig on fire and abandoned it, leaving officials to wonder how the man was able to drive the truck, and why he stole the tractor trailer at all. 

“Seeing the video on TV, that gentleman had prior experience because he knew what buttons to push to release the breaks, he knew what gears to put it in, how to change the gears and, so he had to have prior experience,” said Eugine Strouse, a commercial driving instructor for Amarillo College, to KFDA Amarillo.

But Amarillo isn’t the only city experiencing semi truck theft. Earlier this week, a 28-year-old stole a semi truck in Tennessee and fled police, which led to a fatal collision with a motorist. Additionally, this summer saw multiple stolen semi truck police chases, in Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Michigan, Alabama, and Nebraska. In fact, some thieves even got a little creative this year, organizing a “highly sophisticated nut heist” with the help of a stolen semi truck. 

Those with information on the recent Amarillo truck thefts are encouraged to call the Amarillo Crime Stoppers at (806) 374-4400.Tips that lead to an arrest could earn callers a reward of up to $1,000.

Posted by Amarillo Police Department on Tuesday, December 8, 2020

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