Robbers targeting homes on Houston's west side

July 7, 2010 3:57:27 PM PDT
Authorities are warning residents on Houston's west side to be alert and keep an eye out for five suspects believed responsible for at least four robberies in the area. Police say the suspects have hit six times and they are not your common criminals. Investigators say they are armed, dangerous, highly skilled and extremely sophisticated.

Police are calling the five suspects 'The Cleanup Crew.' Authorities say they are targeting upper income business owners living in several west side neighborhoods near the Galleria, including Tanglewood, Tall Timbers and Glen Cove. There have been six armed robberies, home invasions and burglaries since the fall of 2009.

"This is a very sophisticated crew. I've been a detective a long time, about 29 years. I'd say this is one of the more sophisticated groups that I've ever worked on," said Sgt. Darrell DeFee with the Houston Police Department.

Surveillance photos caught the suspects unmasked at the latest home invasion on June 30 in southwest Houston where they tied up a maid who was working at the residence.

"The M.O. very much suggests that the bad guys know what's inside the residences before they go in," Sgt. DeFee said.

The common thread is that all of the homes targeted by the suspects have security safes in them. Police say while they have reason to believe they know what's inside the home before they strike, they do not think this is an inside job.

"We've looked at all these tradesman and domestic workers on these various properties. We've worked on all that for several months," said Sgt. DeFee.

This morning, authorities had a warning for people living in these neighborhoods.

"I'd be particularly diligent about my day-to-day travel habits. Make sure you're not being followed or being closely watched by somebody that's associated with this group," Sgt. DeFee said.

Homeowners in these neighborhoods are being asked to take additional security measures and to limit the amount of cash and jewelry they keep in their homes.

Houston police are working with the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office because similar crimes were reported there as well.

If you have any information about these crimes or the suspects, you are asked to call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.


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