Minden Press-Herald

Oct 01st

Trio tagged for thefts

A trio of copper thieves is behind bars after admitting they stole oil- and gas-related equipment from two oil well sites near Cotton Valley.

ZeiglerNealWebster Parish Sheriff's investigators Lt. Scott Tucker and Sgt. T.D. Kemp, Jr. arrested 30-year-old Franklin Sanchez Zeigler of Haynesville and 40-year-old Russell Shane Neal of Springhill on two counts of theft of oil and gas equipment.

Also under arrest is 27-year-old Connie Bragg, who lists addresses of Springhill and Haynesville. Bragg is charged with accessory to theft of oil and gas equipment and one count of distribution of CDS Sch. I (marijuana).

Bragg"Zeigler, his girlfriend – Bragg – and Neal went to two separate oil well locations on Highway 160 east of Cotton Valley," said Webster Parish Sheriff Gary Sexton. "Zeigler said they used Neal's truck to pull up underground copper wire from the site without permission from the owner."

Zeigler also reportedly admitted to assisting Neal in removing an electrical box from a utility pole that was on the site.

Det. Tucker said it was that box which tied the thefts to those specific locations.

"We were able to match the control box and the wire that was burned back to others with that particular oil company," Tucker said. "The oil company wasn't even aware at that point that they had been hit."

Tucker said they received a tip from a concerned citizen that Zeigler and Neal had burn piles at their houses with items that appeared to have come from an industrial site.

"Some of the burning was during a time when there was a burn ban, so citizens tipped us off as to the activities," he said. "We were able to go to both residences and recover items."

Sexton said Neal admitted to conspiring with Zeigler and Bragg to steal the wire.

Bragg reportedly denied she was present during the thefts but said she knew Neal stole copper wire and brought it to her residence to burn.






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