Investigators say the thefts started four years ago and then it stopped. But it wasn't until the summer of 2004 when more and more equipment wound up missing.
It was three months ago when investigators in Eddy County New Mexico got a tip. That tip came from workers at a New Mexico shop that repairs oil field equipment. "When the shop opened up the tool, they found a serial number that had been hidden inside. As part of their procedure, they ran that serial number and discovered it was stolen," said Kevin Davis, Hockley and Cochran County Investigator for the District Attorney's Office.
Davis says it was traced back to 34-year-old Michael Sisk. During the investigation, they traced stolen equipment to four counties in Texas, and two in New Mexico. So far they have found 128 missing pieces worth $310,000.
Another Levelland man is still being questioned. He lives at a house on Highway 385 where authorities found 41 stolen tools and equipment. "These two guys would go out on evenings and weekends and find oil fields that were not occupied and pick up any pieces that they thought were valuable. A lot of times they were taking the equipment, scrubbing the serial numbers and reselling the items," said Davis.
"Some of these specialty tools are very valuable. A lot of them look like pipe, but they have inter-working parts, that require precision machinery and therefore a lot of man hours which makes them very valuable," said Davis.
Sisk remains in an Eddy County New Mexico jail. Charges could turn federal because of the number of states and counties involved with the investigation.