A crime victim turned detective tracked down his stolen car after deciding police weren't doing enough. That was after burglars broke into his house nine days ago and stole his car, computers, electronics, cash, jewelry... even the family dog.
The homeowner, who asks to remain anonymous, found his beloved poodle, "Missy," the next day, but the car and other property were still missing.
The following weekend he says one of the stolen computers began transmitting a locator signal. He says, "I tried to provide that information to police , but (at the) Burglary and Theft Division, they're just there on weekends, you have to leave a message."
He turned up another lead when he checked his E-Z Tag account. He saw that someone had been driving his stolen car. He saw a pattern in the account data. He was able to figure out roughly where the thieves lived because the E-Z tag showed someone was driving the car through toll gates at Westheimer at Briarforest on the Sam Houston Tollway at about the same time each day.
"Again I tried to talk to the police department; really just didn't get anywhere," he says.
When he called in the information, he says he was shuffled from the Burglary and Theft Division to the West Side substation to the Harris County Constable's Precinct 5 Office, but still couldn't find anyone willing to take the information.
On Tuesday, his wife went looking for the car in a neighborhood near the toll gates and found it parked at an apartment building in the 2100 block of Wilcrest. HPD patrol units responded, and staked out the car hoping the thieves might return to it, but he says they left after a few hours telling him they couldn't stay any longer.
"I understand they can only watch for so long, but the guys who have my TV and everything else are somehow linked to that car," he says.
The thieves are still on street somewhere. The homeowner says he's learned something.
"You have to be ready to take care of yourself, you have to be ready to take care of your neighbors, and hopefully you have the means to do that, and you do it in the right way," he told Local 2.
A police spokesman says the homeowner should have called 911 to have a dispatcher send a patrol unit to investigate as soon as he reported the hits on his E-Z tag account. But police also say the department doesn't have enough manpower or resources to thoroughly investigate all of the property crimes reported in Houston daily.
In the first six months of 2013, Houston police cleared 7.6 percent of the 11,849 burglaries reported, and 5.5 percent of 6,712 car thefts.