A couple of alleged criminals have some explaining to do. Houston police say they were caught red handed after driving through a gas station and attempting to steal the ATM. The suspects, however, could be behind much more than that.
Last night alone, crooks crashed through three different gas stations to get to the ATM. That's in addition to the, at least, ten stores suspects smashed into in Houston this year to steal automatic teller machines.A re the two accused crooks arrested this morning responsible for the recent rash of these crimes? That's exactly what investigators are trying to determine.
A northwest Harris County store on FM 1960 at Highway 249 was hit first Thursday around 3:30 a.m. Crooks rammed the building with a stolen pick-up, then stole the ATM.
"We recovered the vehicle that was used but no suspects at this time," says Sgt. David Hilborn with the Harris County Sheriff's Office. The Champions Food Store was closed at the time. When the alarm sounded a deputy was very close by.
"He was a couple minutes away. He was in this area already when the call dropped. So he was relatively quick on scene," explains Sgt. Hilborn, but the deputy just missed the bad guys.
About an hour later, clerks at the Valero on Knight Road at Holly Hall in the Texas Medical Center were not as fortunate. Workers were inside when four men in a silver Ford F-250 pick-up truck backed straight through the store. They threatened the employees but the crooks couldn't get the ATM and they soon drove away.
"It's pretty scary," says resident Abdul Rashid.
At 5:30 a.m. Thursday, Houston police made it to a gas station on the Southwest Freeway at Gessner just after the crooks came crashing through. The criminals didn't get the ATM, but two guys did get arrested.
What were the suspects driving? A silver Ford F-250, the same type of pick-up truck that had driven just an hour earlier straight through the Valero in the Texas Medical Center.
Investigators are trying to determine just how many of these smash and grab ATM thefts these accused crooks have committed. Cleaning up the mess after someone drives a truck through a gas station to steal an ATM isn't easy or cheap. With all the building, brick, glass and structural damage, it costs well into the thousands of dollars to fix.
The two men in Houston police custody are being questioned but haven't yet been charged. The 30-year-old who was detained has a long criminal record which includes kidnapping, theft, robbery assault and drug possession. The 25-year-old in custody has prior charges including aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and drug violations.