HOUSTON -- It's not every day we come across someone accused of committing a crime involving trains, but a local man is accused of stealing train horns to make money. The crime put dozens of trains out of commission over the last three years.

Union Pacific conductor Robert Hartman was taken to jail by Houston police after detectives from several agencies said he confessed to stealing 53 train horns since 2009. Hartman's employer said the crime has cost them more than a $500,000.

The horns cost $1,500 each.

But the time lost because of the thefts is what Houston police said hurt Union Pacific the most. Each train engine without a horn has to be taken out of service. The engines had to be lifted off the tracks and taken in for repairs.

Police said Hartman, who was reportedly a Union board member at one time, admitted to selling the horns on eBay.

Investigators said some companies bought and then sold the horns to people to put on their cars -- even though they're too loud to be legal.

If convicted, Hartman could be sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined thousands of dollars.

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