AUSTIN (KXAN) — Tom Height walked out of his Leander home to check on his trailer one Friday when he discovered a problem. The area in his front yard that had been the resting place of a 14-foot, dual-axel trailer for the past 30 years was now empty.
“I had it sitting right here,” Height explained while pointing to the grass.
A trailer thief went to Height’s home, somehow cut off a chain attaching the trailer to a tree, cut through a thick hitch lock, and stole the trailer in less than 30 minutes, Height said.
Height got into his truck and drove to the police station to report the theft. But on his drive along Hero Way to Leander police, Height found his trailer. It was attached to another truck and the thief was driving it the other direction. Height acted quick.
“I turned a 180, and boy I had my truck floorboarded to try to catch up with it,” Height explained.
Height said he chased the thief for five minutes where the two reached speeds up to 110 mph. Height explained he lost the thief in traffic and has not seen his trailer since.
Height’s trailer contained $13,000 worth of band equipment for the Brushy Creek Brass band, a community band that has been in existence for 36 years. Marcy Graham is also a member of that band.
“We are all kind of in shock right now,” Graham said.
The band lost speakers, custom music stands with the band’s logo, and the copies of sheet music from the band’s 106 songs.
Graham is responsible for making 1,200 copies of the original music for the other band members.
“We are slowly rebuilding it,” Graham said.
A string of thefts
Unfortunately, this is not the first time Graham has experienced a trailer theft. She also plays with the Austin Civic Wind Ensemble, and she said the group lost its trailer last year.
An Austin band, Crobot, lost its trailer to a theft in November. Home security video captured the theft as a red truck pulled up to the van, cut the trailer from the van, and drove off with $30,000 worth of instruments and equipment.
Fans of the band raised $30,000 for the group to replace the instruments and gear.
In January, the owner of Austin Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-In in downtown said a person or a group of people stole 80% of his equipment.
That same month, a non-profit that provides laundry services to the homeless said its laundry truck was stolen. The CEO of Mission Accomplished said the truck was worth $35,000.
Austin police does not specify when a truck or trailer are stolen. Data from the department shows there was 5,150 auto thefts in 2022, which is a 16% increase in thefts from 2021.
Leander police, where the Brushy Creek Brass Band trailer was stolen, said its department reported 16 trailer thefts in 2022 and were able to locate six.
“It is not unusual for trailers to be stolen in our area because they are mobile and easy to steal. We have not seen an increase in this type of crime in our area,” Billy Fletcher, Leander assistant police chief, said.