Smash-and-grab nets safe from auto part store

Overnight break-in could be related to burglaries reported recently in Metroplex

Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

Oct. 23, 2006 - Two local businesses were broken into overnight, possibly by the same burglars, who made off with a safe from one of the break-ins.

The break-in just before midnight Sunday at O'Reilly Auto Parts in which a safe was taken was committed in less than two minutes, police said Monday morning.

Police were alerted at 11:55 p.m. by a security company that the store alarm had sounded at O'Reilly's. Officers arrived at the scene within two minutes to find the front door shattered. While still on the phone with dispatchers, the security company employee told dispatchers the back door alarm had just gone off, as well.

Officers checked the rear of the store, finding the back door open. Inside, they discovered the $500 store safe missing. Only the now-broken bolts which anchored the safe were left behind. Police searched the store but found no one inside.

The store manager, after a quick inspection, said the safe appeared to be the only thing missing.

The safe contained an undisclosed amount of cash, as well as keys to five of the store's delivery trucks. The only other indicator anyone had been inside the business were two shelves that had been knocked to the floor, police noted.

"They were in and gone in under two minutes. That's how long it took our officers to get there," Lt.-Investigator Stillwagoner said. "You can't hardly beat that response time.

"They [the burglars] obviously knew what they were doing,” he added. “They went straight in to the safe, lifted it and exited. They obviously had to know the layout of O'Reilly's store."

Police received a call of a second burglary midmorning Monday at Los Mochis restaurant, where the front window was found smashed. Although police had yet to complete that report this morning, Stillwagoner said the initial information received on the break-in at the Mexican restaurant was similar in nature to that at O'Reilly's, which could tie the two crimes together.

Although police had no definite suspects at noon Monday, they were following up on information received from Greenville police of similar crimes recently reported in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Those crimes are suspected to have been committed by a large group of people who wear gloves and face masks to conceal their fingerprints and identities while committing business burglaries in a similar smash and grab manner. The group generally hits in at least two different areas around the same time, Stillwagoner said.

Stillwagoner asked that anyone with information about either of the local burglaries to contact Sulphur Springs police investigators by calling 903-885-7602, or to call Crime Stoppers at 903-885-2020. A reward of up to $1,000 could be given for information relayed to Crime Stoppers which leads to an arrest. Callers to Crime Stoppers do not have to give their names, just their information. Crime Stoppers calls are handled in a manner which protects the identity of the caller.

The burglaries at O'Reilly's and Los Mochis weren't the only two crimes at local businesses over the weekend. Penny's Barber Shop owner Wilber Penny contacted police Saturday morning after finding the business door kicked in upon arriving at work.

While Penny didn't find anything missing, he said Don Deaton, who shares the shop would have to check his property to make sure nothing stolen.

The store owner said the business has had at least three thefts of varied amounts of small change for a total of $200 over the last month which had not previously been reported to police. The owner had recently had the lock changed on the busted door as a deterrent to further thefts.

Older Archives

Looking for News-Telegram Sports and News Archives for January 2004 - November 2008