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Highway to Heistland; Officials say new highway, out of town repeat offenders contributing to crime increase…

Highway 249 in Grimes County Photo: Todd Mission, KBTX

As growth continues on the new Aggie Highway 249 that connects the Brazos Valley to the Greater Houston region, traffic and crime have come along with it.

Officials with the Grimes County Sheriff’s Office are reporting an increase in property crimes and thefts compared to last year.

Those that work, live, and drive near the new toll road 249, referred to as the Aggie Highway, say the roadway has both benefits and setbacks.

Ryan Rutledge was sworn in as Todd Missions’ new police chief just over three weeks ago.

“It’s easier for people to travel to and from the Greater Houston area,” said Rutledge. “Having any type of major thoroughfare coming into or through a county can definitely be basically a pipeline to bring criminal activity along with it so that’s just something we’ll have to combat.”

Grimes County Sheriff Don Sowell says the uptick in crime is concerning.

“It’s devastating to the peace and harmony we so want for our families,” said Sowell.

Sowell believes flaws in the criminal justice system from outside the Brazos Valley contribute to the spike in crime.

“Road rage has increased, hatefulness has increased, drive-by shootings have increased and disregard for the basic respect for each other has decreased and that’s what is sad,” said Sowell. “The courts, the bail system, the lack of tough sentences, and the release of early release of continuous criminal isn’t helping matters at all. The criminal element does not fear going to prison going to jail, they get bail, they get arrested. They get bail and they’re out basically the same day and that’s something that’s very disturbing.”

Rutledge says from a law enforcement perspective, his aim is to grow the department as the community grows.

“Our goals not only with the highway being just north of here is to grow the Todd Mission Police Department, put on more officers to patrol the city, and to help combat that crime,” said Rutledge.

Written By: Donnie Tuggle for KBTX

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