Suspect accused of stealing 12-volt batteries from well sites


FARMINGTON — A Navajo Dam man is facing more than two dozen charges after being accused of stealing several batteries from an oil and gas business.

Billy Bryant, 31, is facing 25 charges, including 11 fourth-degree felony counts of commercial burglary, six fourth-degree felony counts of larceny, fourth-degree felony counts of conspiracy and tampering with evidence, according to the criminal complaint.

Bryant is accused of stealing 16 12-volt batteries from sites for the Southland Royalty Company in the Navajo Dam area along N.M. highways 173 and 551, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

Eric Morrow, Bryant's attorney, said Bryant admitted to some misdemeanor crimes but added the allegations are false and grossly exaggerated.

A detective for the San Juan County Sheriff's Office wrote in an affidavit it is believed the alleged crimes took place between Jan. 16 and Feb. 27.

The Sheriff's Office was investigating a series of burglaries at Southland Royalty Company well locations in which blue-top 12-volt batteries had been stolen and the suspect wore a skater shoe with a distinct "DC" imprint on the heel, according to court documents.

The vehicle used by the suspect was described as having a tire on the front passenger side that was nearly bald in the middle.

A supervisor for the company had several surveillance cameras installed at well locations along N.M. Highway 511.

One of the cameras caught images of an unauthorized vehicle and a man identified as Bryant, according to court documents. After the suspect left the site, two 12-volt batteries were missing.

The vehicle allegedly used in the theft was registered to Bryant, and a search warrant was executed on Bryant's residence on Feb. 27.

The affidavit states the tire impressions on Bryant's dark green SUV were virtually identical to the recorded impressions from multiple well locations where batteries had been stolen. The document states similar shoe impressions also were recovered.

Three batteries were found inside the SUV, along with a hard hat, hammer and a pry bar, according to court documents.

Bryant met with the Sheriff's Office on Feb. 28 in Farmington, and he was wearing his work boots at the time.

Bryant initially told the detective he gave away the skate shoes before stating they were at a Bloomfield apartment complex. The shoes later were located near natural gas meters on the side of an apartment building.

Bryant admitted to the detective to stealing multiple batteries and identified a man to whom he was selling the batteries for $25 each. That man has not been charged in connection to the alleged crime.

The Southland Royalty Company paid about $258 per battery to replace them, according to the criminal complaint.

Bryant was being held without bond Thursday at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for 8 a.m. Thursday in Aztec Magistrate Court.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at

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