Pilot offers $3,000 reward for information on Kirbyville airport burglary

The Jasper County Sheriff's Office is investigating a burglary that happened at the Kirbyville airport over the weekend.

A pilot who owns one of the four hangars that was broken into says thousands of dollars worth of damage was done after thieves destroyed several air conditioning units and stole about 3,000 feet of special runway lighting wire.

That pilot, Dr. John Sessions of Jasper, is now offering a $3,000 reward to anyone with information on the crime.

Sessions has been renting hangars to pilots at the Kirbyville airport for more than 30 years. In that time he says the airport has been broken into 5 times. In 3 of those cases, Sessions has offered a cash reward to anyone with information, and says someone has come forward each time.

As Sessions inspects the damage done over the weekend to one of his hangars Wednesday afternoon, he's reminded of years past.

"These things have happened before but never to this extent," he said.

Wires are clipped from their sockets, missing from their usual hanging spots along the walls. Air conditioners were also gutted for their copper and wires.

"They did about $40-$50,000 in damage, probably got $10 worth of copper, maybe $20 at the most...if they'd gone out at minimum wage and worked half a day they could have made that much money"

Four hangars hit in total, and the theft has affected mechanic Tim Smart as well.

"You come over here and you expect to do a job but you don't have an extension cord, you can't run the tools, you don't have any lighting and the guy was going to pay me to do a job so now I'm set back a whole day," Smart said.

The roadway leading to the airport is blocked by a mechanized gate and guarded by security cameras. There's a sign that says "If you can read this you've already been photographed", but Sessions thinks the burglars came from a different way.

"We believe that they came in probably down the runway through a barbed wire fence and just had themselves a hay day," he said.

So now Sessions is offering a $3,000 reward to anyone with information, a tactic he's had luck with when the airport was targeted in years past.

"Three other times in the past I've offered a cash reward and three other times in the past I've paid off a cash reward and we caught the people who were doing it," said Sessions.

A tactic he hopes will work once more.

Sessions said the last time he offered a reward, a young man came into his office, looked down at the ground and said "Dr. Sessions I hate to tell on my friends, but I really need the money".



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