Multi-county ‘safe cracker’ gang sought
Three men who have apparently been on a crime spree covering several counties in recent weeks may have come to Rockdale last Wednesday night.
The Rockdale Country Club safe was taken during a burglary, a crime strikingly reminiscent of several recent incidents including one only two days previously at the Thorndale Meat Market.
“You can’t help but think these are all related,” Sheriff David Greene said.
Similar crimes were reported recently in Williamson and Lee Counties and a break-in at a Fayette County bank may also be linked to the spree.
COUNTRY CLUB—A safe containing an estimated $2,000 in cash, checks and IOU charge tickets was taken after someone broke in the back door of the country club, according to Kay Backhaus, club manager.
“We got hit pretty hard,” Backhaus told The Reporter. “It came at the end of a big day of business. We probably cooked 60 steaks that night before closing up.”
In addition to cash, the safe also contained “tickets,” tab IOU’s signed by country club members.
“They’ll sign those for purchases they’ve made and then we’ll add them all up,” she said. “We had pretty close to a month of those in the safe.”
THORNDALE—Two days previously, the Thorndale Meat Market lost an undisclosed amount of cash in a break-in that was pulled off like clockwork, according to Ofc. Wade Boedeker of the Thorndale Police Department.
He said surveillance cameras captured the crime by a trio who “obviously knew what they were doing.”
“They were inside the store for only three minutes,” Boedeker said. “It all happened between 3:55 and 3:58 a.m.”
Boedeker said three men, clad in ski masks and wearing gloves, broke in through a back door “using a crowbar and sledge hammer,” and made off with the safe.
“They also got a cash drawer,” he said.
Boedeker said the safe was later found alongside Williamson County Road 427.
“They had apparently gone at it with the same crowbar and sledge hammer, ripped off the door and gotten the money out,” he said.
PICKUP—That’s not all.
“It’s pretty obvious they’re the same ones who, about 4:30 the same morning, broke into the Duchess convenience store in Thrall,” Boedeker said.
Again, a safe was taken from the business.
Thrall is just five miles from Thorndale.
Just as in Thorndale, the crime was captured by surveillance cameras.
“It’s not a real good image, but apparently the camera got a glimpse of the vehicle they were in,” Bodeker said. “It looked to be a dark-colored pickup with a camper shell or some other kind of ‘ box’ attached to the truck bed.”
MORE CRIMES—The same morning, about 90 minutes prior to the Thorndale burglary, Hildebrandt’s Meat Market in Lexington was hit and again surveillance video showed three males breaking into the business, attacking a safe with a sledge hammer and crowbar and taking the contents.
An hour and 15 minutes before the Lexington incident, video equipment at the Carmine State Bank in that Fayette County town showed three males breaking through the front glass door of that building.
But, at the bank, the three suspects aren’t believed to have taken anything.
According to the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department, the trio was observed apparently searching for money and leaving the building without finding any, or taking anything.
“It looks like they just worked their way up into our area, that morning after these other incidents,” Sheriff David Greene said.
Anyone with any knowledge concerning the crime spree is asked to contact Milam County CrimeStoppers at 1- 888- 697- TIPS (8477) or the sherif f ’s departments of Milam, Lee, Williamson or Fayette counties.