Vickie Michelle Barbay was the “lookout” as her husband, Bradley Robert Barbay, a mechanic, removed the filters to commercial diesel vehicles and truck batteries in Parker County, investigators said.
Authorities estimated the Azle couple stole 65 filters and 95 truck batteries with an estimated value of more than $510,000 from Parker County companies from June until this month.
The couple then sold the filters to Ruben Rodriguez Reyes, who sold the parts in Mexico, the sheriff said.
But the theft ring has been shut down now that the three have been arrested, authorities said.
Bradley Barbay, 47, of Azle, was taken into custody last week, while his wife was booked into the Parker County Jail in Weatherford on Sunday. Reyes was booked into the Tarrant County Jail in Fort Worth last week.
“We anticipate additional arrests to be in connection with these cases,” Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler said in a recent news release.
Investigators began seeking theft reports starting in June from several area businesses and oil fields in Aledo and southern Parker County, where they say the suspects focused on filters for commercial diesel vehicles and truck batteries.
Company employees told investigators the filters were valued at $7,771.08 and the batteries were $92.92 each, for a total loss of $513,947.60.
Initially, Bradley Barbay was arrested last week and accused of criminal trespass, but investigators realized he was taken into custody near a business that had reported several thefts.
Through the investigation, authorities believed Bradley Barbay was involved in the thefts and obtained a search warrant for his cell phone.
Text messages on the phone contained photographs of some of the stolen items, Fowler said. The text conversations were between Barbay, his wife, and a person called “Moneyman,” who was later identified as Ruben Rodriguez Reyes.
Some of the conversations involved the sale of the stolen filters in exchange for cash, according to the sheriff.
Investigators matched the dates of exchanges with the dates of the thefts. In at least one instance, Bradley Barbay captured the model number of one of the stolen filters in a photo and sent it to Reyes. Bradley Barbay’s phone also locked in his location of a business at the time of a theft, the sheriff said.
Fowler said Bradley Barbay scrapped over 20 vehicle batteries at a recycling facility in Fort Worth on three separate occasions, just days after the thefts. Investigators obtained Bradley Barbay’s scrapping history, which showed he scrapped between 100 to 500 vehicle batteries from June until this month.
Armed with a search warrant, investigators searched Bradley Barbay’s truck and found a master key, cable cutters, bolt cutters and other tools that detectives believe are used in the commission of thefts.
Reyes was in the Tarrant County Jail on Thursday in lieu of $250,000 bail. He faces a charge of engaging in organized criminal activity.
Vickie Barbay was in the Parker County Jail on Thursday in lieu of $250,000 bail and she also faces a charge of engaging in organized criminal activity.
Bradley Barbay was in the Parker County Jail on Thursday in lieu of $508,000 bail facing charges of theft, criminal trespass and engaging in organized criminal activity related to the alleged thefts. He also was being held on warrants for criminal trespass and burglary out of Fort Worth and Tarrant County.