By Janet Jacobs
Corsicana Daily Sun
It was just old-fashioned dogged police work that helped nab the tailgate thieves on Oct. 28 in Corsicana.
On Friday, Oct. 26, a security camera in Ennis picked up a thief stealing two high-end tailgates off pickups at the Ford dealership, according to Det. Sgt. Jason York of the Ennis Police Department.
“The tailgates had the backup cameras and the steps all built in. The combined value was $8,800,” York explained. “I got on Craigslist that Saturday and found an ad that said they had them in Central Texas. They had them for $350 each. They said they were new.”
Sending them an e-mail from his cell phone, York tried to get a meeting with the seller. The seller, who has now been identified as Russell Orville Jenkins Jr., 43, of Austin, said he was meeting another buyer at the Home Depot in Corsicana, but would text back if the deal didn’t go through.
On Sunday, York and his family were preparing to go to Waco to help a friend move a deck when he got a text from the suspect saying he still had the tailgate in Corsicana but was leaving for Dallas shortly.
Keeping up the story, York said he was buying the tailgate for his cousin, but was in a hurry. Jenkins said to meet him at the Colonial Inn in Corsicana.
“I said it’s my cousin’s problem, he tore up his tailgate because I drive a Dodge and I didn’t want to show up for a Ford tailgate in a Dodge,” York said. “I contacted Mark Nanny with the Corsicana Police Department, and he got me in touch with Todd Morris.”
It was actually Morris who met with the suspect at the Colonial Inn. Jenkins had five tailgates in a rented truck, but he showed Morris four more in the motel room.
Jenkins and his girlfriend, Tracy Holland, 45, also of Austin, were stealing the parts from nearby towns, taking them to a central location, using plastic wrap and a heat gun to “shrink wrap” them and selling them as new on Craigslist. In addition to hitting the Ennis Ford dealership, the same thieves are suspects in a similar theft from the Athens Ford dealership that same night. Athens lost five tailgates that night, Ennis lost two.
York got there after Morris had been given the grand tour, in time for the arrest and to help read the couple their rights before they were taken to jail in Corsicana. The Corsicana charges were receiving stolen goods. The pair was transferred to Ennis for the more serious charges of theft over $1,500. Charges were filed both from Ennis and Athens.
“He confessed to doing Ennis Friday night,” York said.
Holland’s job was the business manager, and they’re getting warrants now for the couple’s computers and cell phones.
“She did all the e-mails and kept a log of who they were supposed to meet and where,” York said. “She solved my case for me.”
Both Holland and Jenkins were booked in Ennis, but they’ve both posted the required $10,000 bond and are now back in Austin, York said.
The couple apparently used Corsicana as a kind of hub, renting a motel room where they would shrink wrap and store the tailgates, and then hitting the surrounding towns to steal the parts. They didn’t steal from Corsicana, according to Corsicana Det. Rex Givens.
“We haven’t found where they stole any from Corsicana,” Givens said. “It looks like they were getting a motel room in a small town and hitting towns close by, rather than the town where they’re at.”
Janet Jacobs may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to “sound off” to this article? E-mail: Soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com