TYLER — The Smith County Sheriff’s Office has recently identified a burglary and theft ring operating in Smith County as well as adjoining counties, according to a news release. Over the past several months, the Smith County Sheriff’s Office has been inundated with theft and burglary of building calls. Officials say the thieves had been stealing commercial grade lawn mowers, weed eaters, chain saws, power tools, all-terrain vehicles, and firearms all over Smith County and in surrounding counties.
On Christmas Eve, and in the days immediately preceding that day, officials say these thefts and burglaries increased. On Christmas Eve, Smith County deputies answered calls of burglaries off Smith County Road 1100 where a large amount of property had been stolen ranging from firearms to chain saws and ATVs. While the deputies were taking these reports a report of a burglary in progress was received by Smith County dispatch from State FM 724 in the New Harmony community. Upon receiving that call, five separate Smith County patrol deputies proceeded to the New Harmony Community in an attempt to capture the thieves.
A short time later, Smith County Patrol deputy Jacob Hart located the alleged thieves on Texas FM Road 2661 just west of Texas State Highway 155. The suspect, John Kincheloe, was taken into custody at that time for the New Harmony offense. During the arrest, Kincheloe reportedly attempted to evade Deputy Hart on foot and was struck by a passing motorist’s vehicle. Kincheloe was examined at the scene by Emergency Medical Services and a short time later booked into the Smith County Jail. Kincheloe and his wife were said to be in possession of a large amount of stolen property at the time of the arrest, including the recently stolen property from New Harmony. Five separate individuals including Kincheloe were identified that day as having been allegedly responsible for the numerous burglaries in Smith County and the surrounding area over the past several months.
Sheriff Larry Smith and numerous members of his staff along with several patrol deputies and detectives worked past midnight on Christmas Eve in Smith and Upshur Counties recovering stolen property and identifying the additional suspects. District Attorney Matt Bingham was contacted regarding these numerous crimes in Smith County and has agreed to prosecute the suspects under the “Engaging in Organized Crime” statute, which will enhance the charges by one degree — making the offenses a 3rd degree felony.
Additionally, three vehicles and a landscape trailer are being seized from the suspects. These vehicles and trailer were reportedly used as an instrument in the commission of these offenses. Sheriff Smith said, “We will use all tools available to ensure that the citizens of Smith County are provided with the best protection that we can provide in instances such as these.”