Law enforcement officials are searching for a suspect responsible for an automobile theft Monday night. In addition, fire officials are investigating the cause of a fire involving the same vehicle.

At around 10:30 p.m. Monday, dispatchers with the Stephenville police and fire departments received two calls - one from a citizen reporting their vehicle had been stolen from their residence, and the other reporting a fire near Hampton Inn and Suites.

According to Detective Sgt. Sha King, officers were dispatched to both locations and quickly realized that the blazing vehicle matched the description of the stolen sedan. Officers later confirmed the cases were connected.

“This is a joint, and independent, investigation being conducted by both the Stephenville police and Stephenville fire departments,” King said.

According to Fire Chief Jimmy Chew, Fire Inspector Cody Derek and Investigator Randy Spikes collected evidence from the scene of the fire and said the department is working to determine the cause of the blaze.

“It’s possible that it was set on fire,” Chew said “It is also possible that it was an accident.”

Chew said due to the condition of the vehicle and the fact that the grass surrounding the car was also ignited, determining the cause of the fire might be difficult.

“We will continue to investigate,” Chew said.

Anyone with information on the theft or fire is encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at 254-965-2274 or leave a tip through the police department Web site at under the Crime Stoppers heading. Tipsters may remain anonymous.