Another problem for the Eagle Ford, which in 2016 saw its high flying oil and gas economy crash down to earth, unemployment increase drastically, and the oil royalties which many rural families were counting on to push them into the middle class dry up, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

  Oil field thefts are way up, driven, according to John Chamberlain with the Energy Security Council, by unemployed and desperate oilfield workers.

  "There is a lot of stuff laying around that just looks like parts but has a high resale value," Chamberlain said.  "A drill bit can cost $25,000 to $50,000."

  The number of active rigs in the Eagle Ford has fallen by two thirds this year as the global price of oil has collapsed from more than $100 a barrel to, recently, less than $40.  Many economists predict that with the world awash in oil, prices could fall to as much as $20 in 2016.

  Chamberlain says laid off oilfield worker not only understand the value of items which to you and I may look like junk, but they have time on their hands and they know their way around the abandoned rigs.  He says some have even resorted to stealing oil

  "Some of them are skimming off the top, some of these water haulers are skimming, it is a problem in the industry which continues to persist."

  Oil theft is potentially dangerous, because thieves won't take the same precautions with the flammable liquid that legitimate producers will take.

  "They deal in such high volumes, that somebody who takes a hundred gallons here and a hundred gallons there, unless your paperwork is really good, you might not even notice."

  The problem is expected to be exacerbated in 2016, as prices are expected to fall further, with more desperate men joining the unemployment lines in the oil patch.