Police urge people to lock cars, hide valuables after recent burglary outbreak

Police are trying to track down three men they believe could be responsible for a recent rash of car burglaries in Smith County. 

Investigators say the suspects are targeting unlocked vehicles -- just opening the doors and taking what they want, right under your nose.

The Smith County Sheriff's Office and Tyler Police say they've responded to close to two dozen burglaries in the southwest part of the county just in the past few weeks. It's happening at all hours of the day -- even in broad daylight.

Thieves are taking off with purses, credit cards, cash, jewelry and even guns.

"It usually takes maybe 30 seconds to a minute to burglarize your vehicle, and then they're out," Detective Aaron Hinton, of the Smith County Sheriff's Office, said. 

Over the past three weeks officers have responded to at least 20 burglaries in the Running Meadows subdivision in Flint and on FM 2493 and FM 2813.

"The victims are leaving their vehicles unlocked, so what the suspects are doing is just checking doors, and if they're unlocked they're opening the doors and burglarizing the vehicles," Hinton said. 

Myessia Lacy and her family have lived in Running Meadows since October, and she says she's shocked to hear about the burglaries in what she describes as a quiet, peaceful neighborhood.

"I have not had any problems since we've been over here, and I always see the sheriff patrolling, but I've never heard of any burglaries or robberies going on," she said.

Investigators are on the hunt for Broderick Willis, 18, Payton Raymond, 19, both of Flint, and Austin Drain, 19, of Tyler.  

"They work in pairs or threes," Hinton said. "You'll have one stay in a vehicle, cruise around the neighborhood as a getaway driver. The other's will check the vehicles and actually commit the burglaries."

All three men are already wanted for other crimes -- including thefts and burglaries.
Lacy says she and her husband are going to be a lot more careful, starting with parking their cars in the garage.

"I need to try to get in touch with the neighbors and make sure that they're aware of of it so we can all get together and start trying to watch out for any suspicious activities," she said.

Hinton says the biggest problem is that people aren't locking their cars, and in a lot of cases, are leaving cash and valuables in plain sight. He's urging everyone to not only lock your cars, but also to either take your belongings inside or put them in your trunk, because if the thieves can't see anything they'll probably move on.

If anyone has information regarding these burglaries, please contact Detective Aaron Hinton at (903) 590-2698, Smith County Dispatch at (903) 566-6600 or Crimestoppers at (903) 597-CUFF.


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