No leads in propane truck theft; recycle truck recovered

Thursday, June 3, 2004

Police are still investigating the theft of a propane truck from Berryville and the crash that destroyed it in Eureka Springs in the early morning hours of April. 1.

The thief or thieves have left no trail that police in either city have been able to follow, except for possible finger prints that have been sent to the state crime lab in Little Rock.

After the thief crashed the truck on the sharp curve near Rockhouse Road on Highway 62 East in Eureka Springs, he escaped the mangled wreckage, left a few drops of blood, and then stole a recycling truck from the nearby Carroll County Recycling Center.

Eureka Springs Det. Morris Pate said Thursday that the stolen recycling truck, a half-ton white Chevrolet pickup, was found recently in Benton County, burnt to a crisp.

"The interior was completely burned out," Pate said. He said he had no new leads in the case.

Berryville police Sgt. Randy Haven said he also had no further information on the theft.

Rex Wisdom, manager of George's Propane service in Berryville, said he couldn't understand the thief's thinking or motive. The truck, full of 4,000 gallons of propane, was locked behind a fence with razor wire around the top to prevent entry to the propane yard on Highway 62 East. Wisdom said the thief's decision, to climb through sharp razor wire, when he could have tried stealing cars from several dealerships nearby, was a mystery to him.

"He was a desperate man," Wisdom said.

The keys to the propane truck were in the vehicle, as were the keys to the recycling truck in Eureka Springs.

Sometime after 1 a.m., the thief drove the propane truck through the locked fence at George's, and then headed west toward Eureka Springs.

Apparently, sometime after 1:06 a.m., the driver came upon the sharp curve at Yesteryears Antiques at Rockhouse Road, where the thief lost control of the vehicle and it overturned, sliding between 75 and 150 feet on its side before crashing at the roadside and crushing most of the truck's cab.

The thief was injured in the crash, as police found blood and other evidence in the truck, according to Berryville police officer Jimmy Capps.

The thief went down the embankment to the nearby recycling center, where he stole a half-ton, white Chevrolet pickup with a green recycling bin on the back.

The thief then backed the truck through the center's new gate, and disappeared. Anyone with information is asked to call Berryville police at (870) 423-3343, or Eureka Springs police at (479) 253-8666.

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