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Sunday, July 27, 1997

Cross-country ride in stolen cars ends in Sweetwater

By BILLY HARRIS/ Abilene Reporter-News

BAIRD - Five suspects - three adults and two juveniles - from the Tyler area made a cross-country trip in stolen vehicles Friday that ended in Sweetwater.

Both of the vehicles that they allegedly commandeered broke down, leading to their capture Friday afternoon.

Larrance Allen Stiefer, 19; Allen Wayne Gaudreau, 20, and Joyce Ann Gaudreau, 34, remained in the Nolan County Jail Saturday night.

Stiefer and the two Gaudreaus were each charged with third-degree felony engaging in organized criminal activity and were each held on $3,500 bond.

The two juveniles also remained in custody in a juvenile detention facility. All five suspects could face additional charges.

The saga began when the suspects allegedly stole a 1989 Pontiac in Dogwood, and trekked about 200 miles before running out of gas near Baird, said Baird City Marshal Sgt. Sue Martindale.

They walked about a mile to the Baird Dairy Queen where they allegedly absconded with a 1983 Dodge Ram Wagon about 11 a.m. Friday.

The owner, who was inside the restaurant and had left the keys under the drivers seat, noticed the vehicle was missing, Martindale said.

Callahan County dispatchers issued an all-points bulletin, and an alert trucker heard the description of the Dodge over his scanner.

He spotted the abandoned vehicle at the 251 miler marker on Interstate 20 near Sweetwater and alerted the Nolan County's Sheriff's Office about 12:30 p.m.

"We encountered the five subjects when they walked into town and were in the process of locating another vehicle to take," said Sweetwater Police Chief Jim Kelly.

Sweetwater police then notified Martindale that the suspects had abandoned the Pontiac just east of Baird on Interstate 20 before stealing the Dodge.

On checking, Martindale found an abandoned Pontiac near the 309 mile marker about one mile from the Baird Dairy Queen.

The five people arrested are from the Tyler area, listing address' from Jacksonville and Dogwood.

The Smith County Sheriff's Department had issued a bulletin on the stolen Pontiac, but she hasn't been able to make contact yet, Martindale said.

The Dodge Ram was recovered and returned to the owners while the Pontiac remained in custody in Callahan County

(Correspondent Don King contributed to this story.)

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