Police in Longview, Texas are investigating a string of thefts of batteries used to power pipeline monitoring equipment.
The batteries look like those used in cars but cost a couple of hundred dollars more.
In nearby Harrison County, as many as 90 batteries have been stolen from oil and gas fields this summer, according to the Texas Tribune.
The cost of replacing the batteries falls on local operators, and there is usually some lost production as well.
Increased drilling activity in East Texas’ Haynesville Shale formation is leading to more thefts.
Police to the west in Midland expect a similar crime wave to hit the Permian Basin, where drilling is surging in the Cline Shale formation.
Tri-State Battery Supply in Longview records a customer’s name and address for each battery sale. Police can sometimes use the information to track stolen goods.
Recyclers, however, pay cash for used batteries and don’t ask questions, the Texas Tribune said.
Louisiana law requires recyclers to file state reports when people bring in used batteries.
Texas law doesn’t go that far.
Meanwhile, drillers and police across Texas are working together to track stolen batteries.
And more drillers are hiring off-duty police to keep watch on drilling sites at night, to prevent the thefts from happening in the first place.