Wreckers were men who lived on Padre and Mustang Islands and made their living by luring ships to wreck on the island by suspending lanterns from burros, which they walked along the beach. Ships would see the swaying lights, and thinking it was another ship that was heading through a channel to Corpus Christi, and would follow it hoping for safe passage.
When the ship ran aground, the wreckers would either wait until the crew abandoned the ship and then would board it and steal what they wanted, or they would simply board it and hold the crew at gunpoint while the wreckers took what they wanted.
These men were often referred to as "sand pirates".
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