A Houston man is charged with four felonies and three misdemeanors after allegedly swiping gasoline in October from trucks parked at the USDA building on U.S. 63 in Houston.

Paxton M. Cox, 22, of 16681 Brushy Creek Road, is charged with three counts of first-degree property damage (a class D felony), possession of burglary tools (a class E felony), and misdemeanors of driving while suspended, failure to register a motor vehicle and no insurance.

According to a Houston Police Department report, an officer on patrol at about 10 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2,  pulled over a vehicle with expired license plates. While speaking to the driver – Cox –  the officer observed in plain sight a two drills (one with a large bit) and a gas cap.

The officer determined Cox’s drivers license was suspended, so the vehicle was towed. By department policy, an inventory was conducted of the vehicle’s contents.

During the procedure, two gas cans with holes cut in their sides were found, along with a chainsaw that had been painted red, a funnel that smelled like gas, a set of bolt cutters and a black mask. The officer seized some of the items because of earlier reports of trucks’ gas tanks being tampered with.

Cox was taken to the Texas County Sheriff’s Department interview room, and agreed to speak with an officer. During questioning, Cox reportedly said he had been to Romines Motor Co. twice in the last month trying to steal gas from parked vehicles, but claimed to have not been involved in the fuel theft at the USDA site.

During subsequent investigation, the officer was told by a 20-year-old woman at a residence in Houston that she had driven Cox to the USDA building at about 10 p.m. on a foggy night and that he had drilled holes in several USDA vehicles. She reportedly said she didn’t know what he was doing until he returned to the vehicle smelling like gas.

Cox reportedly again denied the crime and said the woman was lying.

A TCSD deputy assisted in the investigation. Cox is jailed on $150,000 bond.

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