HOUSTON - A simple, but violent armed robbery in a small Texas town has yielded at least 50 more victims than originally anticipated.
"They wanted more than cash," Police Chief Frank Serrato said.
He is the top cop in San Felipe, Texas, an Austin County town with less than 1,000 permanent residents.
On Jan. 3 just after 6 p.m., two armed men walked into the Peterbilt Truck dealership along I-10, hopped over the counter, manhandled the clerk, and made off with a satchel containing both cash and checks.
The stolen checks, which had already been processed and would appear to hold little value, appeared to be what the crooks were really after.
Within hours, teams of men and women descended on Houston, Katy and Cypress banks with phony checks using the stolen account information from unsuspecting Peterbilt customers.
"I got a call from a teller that someone just tried to cash a $1,000 check. I said, 'Call the police,'" one victim, who wished to remain anonymous, said.
"These people (the crooks), they don't care," Chief Serrato said.
He believes at least five people, men and women, are involved in the robbery and theft ring.
The chief estimated there were so far about 50 victims, customers, who had their accounts accessed or nearly accessed. Either scenario is akin to identity theft, a time-consuming problem to fix.
Austin County Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for anonymous information that leads to prosecution. Call 979-865-2949 if you have any info.
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