Given the nature and magnitude of the recent burglaries in the Brazos Valley, law enforcement agencies across the state, including Brazos, Robertson, Grimes, and Madison counties, gathered at the Texas Department of Public Safety office on Highway 6 to brainstorm.
In a matter of 48 hours, two dealerships in the Brazos Valley became victim's to what police are calling a tire and rim theft ring. On Saturday night in Hearne, a group of suspect's burglarized Derek Scott's Auto Park in Hearne. Robertson County Sheriff Gerald Yezak says a suspect drove a county-owned maintainer through a metal fence. After that, he says they stole a video surveillance camera from a light pole and then disabled power to the parking lot. After that, the suspect's were able to steal 156 tires and rims from 39 GMC Truck’s and SUV’s. The vehicles were propped up by wooden blocks.
Not even 24 hours later, it’s believed the same group of individuals burglarized Texas Custom Outfitter’s in Grimes County; a car accessory business owned by Team Ford in Navasota.
Twenty GMC Model Truck’s and SUV’s were found on wooden blocks. Police say these blocks were also found 24 hours earlier at the crime scene in Hearne.
Navasota Police Chief Shawn Myatt says the approximate value of the thefts and damage is $90,000.00. The thieves broke windows to several vehicles in an effort to find the keys to the wheel locks.
Meanwhlie in Madison County, that same night, two men who police are calling "suspicious" were apprehended at Henson Ford in Madisonville.
Due to communication and an increase in city patrol in Madisonville, Sheriff Travis Neeley believes his men caught two suspect’s getting ready to strike the Henson Ford dealership off I45 on Sunday night.
“There is no doubt the officer prevented a $30,000 to $40,000 theft,” Neeley said Wednesday.
Henson Ford was hit by thieves 18 months ago. Owner Fred Henson says the suspect's got a way with roughly $100,000 in stolen tires and wheels.
“Derek Scott called me and told me about what happened to his dealership and so I got with my GM and we contacted our local authorities and placed extra people on watch," said Fred Henson, owner of Henson Ford in Madisonville.
At 10:30 Sunday night Jerry Wayne Louis and Jeremy Cardell Bassue of Houston allegedly told Madisonville Police they were car shopping at Henson Ford.
“Both of them had extensive criminal records with auto theft, burglaries, and so forth and had a pair of bolt cutters in the car with them," said Neeley.
After giving what police considered conflicting stories, the two were detained.
“Another individual had a hat that had security written on it, and he passed himself as a security guard, as a hired security contractor for the weekend," Neeley said.
So far, the suspects involved in these crimes in the Brazos Valley have left very little evidence of their identity. The wooden blocks that the suspects used to prop the vehicles up after stealing the wheels and rims, are being considered a critical piece of evidence.
That evidence is almost, if not, identical to what Donald Ray Washington, used during his alleged wheel and tire theft ring that spanned across 40 auto dealerships since 2011.
According to KJAS online, a media outlet in Jasper County, federal investigators determined that Ray Donald Washington, of Houston, and another man, were the ringleaders of an organized crime operation, and they had several people working for them.
A U-Haul that was reported stolen from Houston sometime in July of 2011 was recovered one month later, roughly 230 miles away. According to the St. Martin Parish Sheriff's Office in Louisiana, the driver, later identified as 20-year-old Dominique Jones of Houston, abandoned the U-Haul at a Volvo Dealership in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. Inside the U-Haul police say they found twenty tires and wheels that had been stolen from a car dealership in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
Jones still remains in a Harris County Jail.
KATC Channel 3 News in Lafayette is reporting that the Acadiana Mack Volvo dealership in Breaux Bridge was struck by the suspects on August 3rd, 2011, and St. Martin Parish deputies arrived in the area and found a U-Haul truck, which was reported stolen out of Houston, had been abandoned in a ditch. The story said that the deputies found twenty tires and wheels in the truck, which had been stolen from a car dealership in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The story said that St. Martin Parish deputies were able to identify the suspects, and warrants were later issued for their arrest. Washington and the other man were later arrested in Houston, and extradited to Lafayette.
Washington was later connected to a burglary in Jasper County in Texas. According to KJAS online, during the early morning hours of Sunday, February 19th, Jasper County Sheriff’s deputies say the thieves went to Weaver Motors on Highway 96 in Kirbyville, where they jacked up 21 vehicles and stole wheels and tires. They left the vehicles sitting on wooden blocks. Investigators say the suspects have committed the same crimes at dealerships across Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, with the same method of operation in each case. The burglarized Dodge trucks were left sitting on wooden blocks at Weaver Motors in Kirbyville.
On May 10, 2012, the United States Marshal’s Violent Offender Task Force apprehended Ray Donald Washington in Houston Texas. He is currently awaiting extradition back to St. Martin Parish where he will face charges.
Additional charges and arrests are currently pending. The investigation is ongoing.