Tracking device leads deputies to robbery suspects

- A robbery ring is busted after investigators say the suspects went on a two-week crime spree. robbing businesses at gunpoint throughout northwest Harris County. At least five suspects were taken into custody.

After two weeks of robbing mostly donut and kolache shops, Harris County Sheriff’s Office investigators say the group of thieves finally made a big mistake when three robbers entered a cell phone store. There was a tracking device in one of the stolen cell phones which led law enforcement officers straight to the suspects.            

The robberies started on May 4 and continued until Wednesday.

“They put a gun in my manager’s face right here, told me to lift my arms up, opened the registers, kept on putting guns in our faces and got the money and left and told us to have a safe day,” explains one Kolache Factory employee who understandably opted not to be identified. He spoke with FOX 26 News just after at least one of the suspects robbed the shop, leaving he and two female employees quite shaken.

"Kind of ruined our day," added the Kolache Factory employee. "I feel bad for these ladies right here. They’re all shook up. I don’t even know if they want to come back to work tomorrow."

In addition to the Kolache Factory on Louetta Road, a Shipley Do-Nuts and Dunkin Donuts on Spring Cypress Road in northwest Harris County were also robbed within a matter of minutes. Just a day earlier, a Subway sandwich shop on State Highway 249 was robbed. In all, HCSO detectives say at least 19 businesses were robbed within a two-week period.
  
Even as HCSO Lieutenant Jeff Stauber spoke with the Kolache Factory owner promising to catch the crooks, a fourth robbery in one day was underway. 

"I assured him we’re working feverishly to bring these suspects to justice and sure enough as fate would have it within ten minutes of my conversation with him, here we are,” explains Lt. Stauber with the HCSO Robbery Division. Investigators say in the fourth robbery of the day just before noon, the suspects robbed a Metro PCS store on Jones Road and unknowingly left with a tracking device in one of the phones. Deputies soon were on their trail, leading to a vehicle chase and crash. The suspects were able to get out of the vehicle and run away, but K-9 officers caught up with them quickly.

”They assisted in the pursuit and they were able to run down some of the suspects,” says Lt. Stauber. Two of the suspects were bitten by the law enforcement dogs, taken into custody and treated for their wounds. One man ran into an apartment unit on Mills Road where deputies caught him and two other young men that officers say they recognized from the donut shop robbery surveillance video.

"We have five people in custody," says Lt. Stauber. "By no stretch of the imagination are we done. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We may still have more suspects at large.” Detectives say the accused thieves would work in shifts, robbing in groups of two or three. All of them are young adults who face charges of aggravated robbery.

"I think they’re youngsters who might just ruin their lives over a couple bad decisions," says one of the robbery victims. "They weren’t thinking.”

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