Barry County Sheriff Mick Epperly and several deputies are on the hunt for at least two young men who went on a car theft binge last week.
Epperly said his department received a call Wednesday about a vehicle that had been stolen from the Pierce City area that was being used to run through fences in the McDowell area.
"We had people on the phone telling us the truck was running through their fence, and pretty soon we'd get another call from someone else saying the same thing," Epperly said. "The thieves drove through a fence at Bill Roller's hunting lodge, drove right up to the lodge and set the truck on fire. They stole Mr. Roller's Suburban and drove through a back fence, releasing about 20 large bucks from the preserve."
The hunting lodge is located in rural Purdy.
"Mr. Roller was able to retrieve all but three of the bucks," Epperly said.
After stealing the Suburban, the young men eventually ditched the vehicle and set it on fire.
"Then they stole another vehicle and later ditched it but didn't burn it," Epperly said.
The two are facing multiple charges of first degree tampering with a motor vehicle and at least two charges of arson and possible restitution of thousands of dollars in property damage.
"They are doing it for pure meanness," Epperly said. "They are not profiting from the theft of these vehicles, and they are making other people's lives miserable. They really don't know how close they have come to being shot."
The Missouri State Highway Patrol is helping investigate the multiple reports of property damage caused by the vehicle stealing spree.
"We are hoping that the public can help identify these people, so they can be apprehended," Epperly said.
The Barry-Lawrence Chapter of Crime Stoppers offers rewards of up to $1,000 for tips that lead to the arrest of those wanted for felony crimes.
Tips may be submitted by calling 354-TIPS (8477) or toll-free at 1-888-635-TIPS (8477). Tipsters may remain anonymous.
Tips may also be submitted through the Barry-Lawrence Crime Stoppers website at www.blcrimestoppers.com. Web-based tips are ineligible for a reward.