Police Tracking Christmas Present Thief

December 30, 2009

The Grinch who stole Christmas was real in West University Place this year — And police are hot on his tail trying to recover the gifts that went missing.

With the help of Bellaire police, West U. officers have an arrest warrant for a 30-year-old man who is suspected of stealing packages from at least five homes after the parcels were delivered by United Parcel Service. West U. Lt. Charlie Deily said he fears there could be even more theft victims, and urges residents to call police if they are missing deliveries expected between Dec. 11 to 21.

“By the time we catch up with [the suspect], it would be nice to have all the victims on hand so we can start to look for their property,” Deily said.

Police began unraveling the story of the missing Christmas presents on Dec. 21. A woman called police after she saw suspicious activity while she was out jogging.

The woman was passing her own house in the 3600 block of Amherst Street when she saw a man taking boxes from the back of his vehicle and throwing them over the fence into her own backyard. She confronted him and told him to leave her property. He left, and the woman continued jogging. But when she returned home she noticed the suspect had left the packages in her yard and she called police.

Police inspected the packages and linked them to five West U. homes in the 3800 block of Tangley Street, 4100 block of Milton Street, 3700 block of Georgetown Street, 3200 block of Albans Street and the 3700 block of Robinhood Street. The items stolen from the packages included CDs, books, clothing and cosmetics, Deily said. One of the boxes still had a self-help CD inside, which police returned to its owner.

During the investigation, police found that another neighbor also noticed the suspicious activity and had written down the man’s vehicle description and license plate number. That’s when West U. police learned their counterparts in Bellaire had already fingered the same man for the same crime.

Bellaire police spokesman Tim Quimby said a resident had seen the suspect steal a package from a home in the 4100 block of Laurel Street. The person wrote down the license plate number, and police learned the identity of the driver.

Unfortunately, the witness was unable to positively identify the suspect in a photo lineup — Bellaire police were forced to drop the case.

“Unless we get a break or something, we’re at a stop right now,” Quimby said. But Bellaire police provided their West U. colleagues with the photo lineup when they learned the same suspect had struck again.

“Luckily, they were able to get him ID’d and file a case,” Quimby said.

West U. police secured an arrest warrant, learned where the suspect lives and works, and they are working to track him down, Deily said.

“If any body has seen anything, or any other victims, give us a call,” Deily said. “They need to let us know so we can make a report.”

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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