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Deputies cracking down on northside robbery ring

HOUSTON – More than two dozen stores have been hit by a gang of burglars and robbers that police began tracking this summer.

Police have identified at least some of the suspects involved now, but the lists of both suspects and victims seems to grow a little longer with each passing day.

What the suspects stole in each case were electronics, but not just any brand. And that’s what first got the attention of Deputy Constable Joseph Bowden, with the Harris County Precinct 1 Constable's Office.

"We were having several cases where businesses were being broken into overnight and they were stealing only Apple products," Bowden said.

He noticed a pattern in the first few cases. He then crossed paths with Houston detective Kenny Edie, who was also investigating some of the burglaries.

"Nothing was put together until we actually connected and made the connection of all these cases," Edie said.

Together, Bowden and Edie determined the suspects not only looked for Apple products exclusively, but that in each burglary, they carefully cased each store they targeted.

Over four months, the two officers identified almost 30 cases. And as the suspects became more prolific, they expanded from burglaries to robbery.

"They started with burglaries, breaking in buildings, and then they went to snatch-and-grab," Bowden said. "And then they got to the point where a gun was actually pulled on one of the victims."

From photographs and witnesses, the officers managed to identify five suspects. Most are members of a northside gang called the Hotboys. So far, only Marquez Carroll is in jail. Four others are still at large.

The hunt for them was complicated by Hurricane Harvey

"Because of Hurricane Harvey, most of them have been displaced, so they’re kind of in unknown locations. We’ve gone by houses flooded out. They’re no longer staying there," Bowden said.

The officers are worried that the longer the suspects remain on the street, the greater the chance of escalating violence.

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