Two suspects are being sought by Rowlett police in connection with separate robberies that occurred outside a Walmart earlier this month.
The Rowlett Police Department released photos of two male suspects with an apparently similar M.O. of lurking outside Walmart to target victims as they loaded their purchases into their vehicles, according to CBS News Texas. In both cases, the suspects allegedly fled the scene in stolen Hyundai vehicles.
The first reported incident occurred on November 7, shortly before 9 p.m.
A man loading groceries into his truck in the parking lot of a Walmart located at 2501 Lakeview Pkwy. in Rowlett was allegedly approached by a male suspect wielding a handgun. The victim was allegedly forced to hand over his wallet, and then the suspect took off in what police said was a stolen black Hyundai Elantra.
The victim’s credit cards were allegedly used in Garland and Rowlett within 8 minutes of the attack.
As explained by Rowlett police corporal Jaqueline Vergara, the stolen Elantra was later involved in a high-speed chase involving officers from another city, according to Fox 4 KDFW.
The suspects in the vehicle managed to escape, and the Elantra was eventually recovered in Oak Cliff. Taunting messages were left inside the car. “We had fun,” read a note etched on the dashboard screen, while another on the ceiling read, “3 police chase, rly.”
Just two days later, at around 10 a.m., Rowlett police responded to reports of another robbery that occurred in the same parking lot as the first. This time, the victim threatened to call 911, presumably scaring the robber off. The suspect left the scene in a red Hyundai Sonata.
“That vehicle is also stolen, stolen out of DeSoto, and we see a pattern that they’re aiming for Hyundai vehicles,” explained Vergara, per Fox 4. “The way we think that they are entering these vehicles are [sic] by smashing the back right rear window.”
The red Hyundai, license plate SWH0384, has yet to be recovered.
A woman is also wanted for questioning, as she was spotted on Walmart’s security camera footage purchasing items with the two male suspects prior to the first robbery, according to Vergara.
“We have really good footage of them, so we know that someone out there knows them,” she said, per Fox 4, urging anyone with information to come forward by contacting Det. J. Freeman at 972-412-6250 or via email at [email protected].
All kinds of theft have been reported across Dallas-Fort Worth in the past few weeks, ranging from retail bandits targeting local CVS and Walgreens to criminals going after high-performance vehicles in airport parking lots. Authorities suspect the vehicle thefts are the work of organized crime rings.
In Dallas, incidents of burglary and robbery are running high, with 5,239 and 2,053 logged this year as of November 15, respectively, according to the City’s crime analytics overview dashboard. The city has also become ground zero for auto theft, with 16,526 incidents reported, marking an alarming year-over-year rise of 41.7%.
The Dallas Police Department does not have the manpower to effectively tackle the issue. As Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia indicated in a recent interview, only a dozen officers are working on auto theft.
While DPD currently has only 3,200 officers to mobilize, a prior analysis from the City indicated that a city the size of Dallas requires a force of 4,000 to adequately address crime and maintain public safety.
The shortfall is most apparent in Downtown Dallas, where it leads Fort Worth’s downtown area in motor vehicle thefts, as revealed in a study. In April alone, vehicle thefts in Downtown Dallas number 91 compared with only two in Fort Worth. Fort Worth is reportedly patrolled by a dedicated police unit working alongside private security guards.