WEST UNIVERSITY PLACE, Texas – West University Place police are investigating a burglary that happened after one homeowner asked for help from the people he hired to put up his fence. Little did the homeowner know that innocent request would turn into a headache.
"Just be careful who you allow to know what's in your house," Det. Sgt. Dan Shelor with West University Place police said.
Shelor led the investigation after one West University Place resident told police he had $10,000 worth of items taken from his garage.
"Jan. 21, patrol was dispatched to a burglary," Shelor said. "The resident had a fence company putting in a new fence."
The homeowners told police they had been remodeling their home for six months and had been staying at another location while the renovation took place. The homeowner had purchased a 77-inch TV for his newly remodeled home. Hoping to store the TV in his garage, he had asked one of the fence workers to help him bring the TV inside. He paid the worker $20 for the help.
However, two days later, the homeowner came back to find that someone had drilled a hole into his garage and broken in and items, including his TV, were gone.
"A large screen, medium screen TV, both flat screens, a drill and two guitars," Shelor said.
The homeowner told police the only people who could have known about what was inside the garage were the people who were fixing the fence that day.
"Sure enough, two things popped up, pawned by the same person," Shelor said.
Police got hold of surveillance video that shows 17-year-old Jhonatan Diaz and a friend pawning some of the stolen items at a local pawn shop. Investigators took that video to Rio Grande Fence, the company working on the fence for that homeowner, and one of the employees working on the job identified Diaz as his son. Diaz had been helping his father on the fence job that day. Police said the father and the fence company were not aware of the crime.
"The fence company had no idea," Shelor said.
Rio Grande Fence said they are more than willing to work with the homeowner and police to make things right.
Rio Grande Fence issued this statement to KPRC:
"It was brought to our attention an incident had taken place at a resident in which we were working. It is disheartening to learn, some involvement by a subcontractor's worker, may have occurred.
"As this is an ongoing investigation, we do not want to comment on the details of what may have occurred.
"After being in business for over 30 years, it is always our intent to leave a site in better condition than when we arrived as well as respect other’s property. This is the first incident that we have ever had occur and we are cooperating with the Homeowner and the Detectives in their investigation."
Police said Diaz recruited two friends to help, including 22-year-old Jose Adriano and Manuel Torres. According to court documents, items that were taken were found in the suspect's homes. All have been charged with felony burglary with intent to commit theft.
The homeowner thanked police for their hard work.
Police said warrants are out for all three of the suspects' arrests. Investigators said all items that were taken are being returned.
However, Shelor said this is a good reminder that homeowners can never be too careful.
"Don't be too trusting," Shelor said. "It's not to say that anyone trying to help you is going to be a bad person, but just be aware of who you're letting in your house."