Massive North Texas Gun Heist Foiled When Alleged Thief Passes Out, Drives Through Fence

A quick glance at Rode Don Simmons' Facebook page is enough to tell you that the 21-year-old enjoys guns, but that's par for the course in semi-rural North Texas. A young man can't very well shoot ducks and feral hogs without a trusty gun or two.

But Simmons' passion for firearms has reached unhealthy levels, according to documents filed Friday by federal prosecutors and the ATF. They accuse him of breaking into the Pigeon Road Shooting Range just outside Stephenville on Thursday morning and making off with 72 guns.

"He pretty much took anything he could get his hands on," Erath County Sheriff Tommy Bryant told the local paper.

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It wasn't like the range was unlocked. To get to the weapons, Bryant said, Simmons drove a stolen Chevy Tahoe through a back field, cut through a barbed-wire fence, cut electricity to the building, shattered the front glass with an ax or hammer, then used bolt cutters to get through the metal bars covering the door.

Clearly, all this required a considerable amount of preparation. Simmons put considerably less thought into planning his getaway. About an hour after the burglary, a sheriff's deputy about 40 miles to the north in neighboring Parker County came upon a green Chevy Tahoe that had flattened at least one fence before coming to a stop in a field off Highway 113 near Millsap. Inside, Simmons was slumped over the wheel, passed out. Occupying the front and back seats were a few dozen guns, many with Pigeon Road price tags still attached.

Simmons was placed under arrest after regaining consciousness and readily confessed to stealing the guns, according to a criminal complaint. He's charged with stealing a firearm from a licensed dealer and was ordered to remain in federal custody pending trial.

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Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson