The Midlothian City Council will consider an interlocal agreement to place a Midlothian Police officer on the Tri-County Auto Theft Task Force at its Tuesday night meeting. If approved, the officer will join the task force in August. The meeting will take place at 6 p.m.
“We have asked the council to endorse sending one of our detectives over to participate in the task force after an unexpected opening was created. We have been really trying to be apart of the group for a while,” Midlothian Assistant Police Chief Kevin Johnson said. “The grant funding hasn’t expanded as expected, so we had to wait to till an investigator left and created an opening.”
According to the Mansfield Police Department’s website, the focus of this multi-agency task force is to reduce auto burglaries and thefts through enforcement and public education.
The Texas Auto Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority fund the organization. Agencies that are apart of this team include the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, Tarrant County Precinct 7 Constable, the Burleson, Mansfield and the Kennedale Police Departments.
Johnson stated that auto thefts and burglaries are on the rise in the city. In 2015, Midlothian experienced 84 vehicle burglaries and another 95 vehicle burglaries in 2016. Vehicles thefts in 2015 totaled 18, and in 2016 there were 15 thefts.
“It is a growing problem in our community, unfortunately,” Johnson stated. “We might go a week or two without a car burglary and then we might have 10 one night in a particular neighborhood or maybe we will start getting hit on the weekends.”
If approved, the detective assigned to the task force will still have the primary responsibility of investigating Midlothian cases related to vehicle burglaries and thefts. As a task force member, the detective will have the resources of the group at his disposal. These resources include additional investigators, bait cars, bait trailers, and some surveillance capabilities such as cameras.
Grant funding from the state will pay for 80 percent of the detective’s salary with the city funding the remaining 20 percent.
The task force has aided Midlothian Police in the past. On March 6, 2017, Marcus Lynn Phillips was arrested for cargo theft. The Wichita Falls resident was arrested in connection with the theft of a semi-truck containing $85,000 worth of StarKist canned tuna. The offense took place July 1, 2016, in the 200 block of Henderson Street.
The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles website states that more than 65,000 vehicles are stolen in the state with thousands more that are burglarized. Almost half of all the vehicles stolen had the keys left inside.
In other business the council:
• Will consider a resolution authorizing the Mayor’s Winter Walk that is hosted by the Midlothian Parks and Recreation Departments set for Feb. 24.
• Will consider a first amendment to the communications system agreement with the City of Fort Worth to allow smart device access to WAVE system.
• Will host a public hearing and consider an ordinance granting a specific use permit for a water well on a lot in the Clearview Estates subdivision that is presently zoned within an agricultural district.
• Will host a public hearing and consider an ordinance amending the city’s comprehensive plan map for future land use by changing from the rural module to the suburban module for 1,502.9 acres located between Baucum Road and Dunn Road with a portion of it in the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction.
• Will host a public hearing to consider amending planned developments section of the zoning ordinance mending the minimum lot size requirements for urban village planned developments and making other non-substantive revisions.
• Will consider appointments to various city boards and commissions, council subcommittees, and council board liaison positions.
• Will consider a resolution authorizing the advance of $92,879.15 to Gatehouse Midlothian Development by the Midlothian Development Corporation.
• Will discuss in executive session the purchase of property consisting of 2.067 acres located at the southeast corner of Main Street and U.S. Highway 287 Bypass in Midlothian.
• Will discuss in executive session economic development negotiations with Marriott Courtyard.
• Will consider granting a specific use permit for the new business to be located west of Harvest Hill Drive and the Reindeer Drive intersection. The building will be over 1,000 square feet.
The meeting will be held at city hall, which is located at 104 W. Avenue E in downtown Midlothian.