US Marine arrested in several jewelry heists out of Harris County

A member of the United States Marine Corps has been arrested and charged with several jewelry store heists after investigators say he stole more than a half million dollars worth of expensive goods.

"This is what we term a serial jewelry store burglar," says Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman.

The thief can be seen in surveillance footage smashing his way into David Yurman and Helzberg Diamonds at Houston Premium Outlet Mall. "As you can see in the photographs, he busts in with a sledgehammer," the Constable explains.

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Constable Herman says the thief isn't only caught on camera but has been captured, arrested, and charged with two counts of first-degree Felony Theft.

"He was being taken into custody and his dog tags fell out. He did tell us he was in the U.S. military," says Constable Herman.

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Marcelo Hernandez (Courtesy of Harris County Precinct 4 Constable's Office)

Marcelo Hernandez is just 18 years old. Investigators say Hernandez would wear black and burst into these stores overnight when they were closed. Yurman was hit days after the young Marine returned to town.

"Actually, he just recently finished his boot camp in the Marine Corps about a week before one of our cases," the Constable adds.

When the teenager was arrested, Constable Herman said three handguns, $11,000 in cash, and $500,000 worth of jewelry including diamonds and other precious stones were found in his car, a Mercedes-Benz GLA.

Constable Herman says the car, with stolen license plates, could be seen on surveillance cameras during the heists, but he says determined detectives finally traced the Benz back to Hernandez.

"Just the police instinct in our investigators feel this guy is involved in more than just being a serial burglar at night with jewelry stores because some of the evidence we saw when we arrested him indicates he’s probably going to be involved in other crimes," says Constable Herman.

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Hernandez is said to live in the Cypress area where the holdups happened.

"It appears he still lives with his parents. I mean this is an 18-year-old kid. I mean he’s got his entire life ahead of him. Why he would choose to take this direction or path we don’t know," the Constable says.

Precinct 4 is running an analysis on the three handguns to see if they've been used to commit other crimes.