Friendswood police search for more victims of alleged vehicle burglar

By Mary Benton , Nakia Cooper - Senior Web Editor

FRIENDSWOOD, Texas - Friendswood police are searching for more victims of an alleged vehicle burglar who was chased down by one of his victims and cornered until police arrived. Local 2 spoke with another victim who was also hit.

When Shannon Smith opened the door to her vehicle Thursday morning, she knew immediately something was wrong. Her center console was up, personal items were tossed around and then she noticed her wallet had been tampered with.

"Luckily all he did was unzip this portion, I had my checkbook here that he took out, probably looking for cash. That's my guess because he took IDs and cards and things like that," said Smith.

She is one of several people whose cars were burglarized overnight allegedly by 21-year-old Robert Chance Gates. She's relieved that he didn't get away with anything more than her checkbook.

"I called the bank, they were very kind and helped me change everything over right away. The thing I was most grateful for is that my military ID wasn't taken. That's something that takes awhile to replace and I needed that," she said.

Officers say they responded to a burglary-in-progress call at a residence in the 16900 block of Creek Line Drive at 1:15 a.m. When police arrived, Gates jumped a fence, so officers and the victim gave chase. The victim was able to catch and tackle Gates after crashing through a couple of fences.

Surveillance video shows Gates checking for unlocked vehicles. According to police, he then gets inside one of the victim's vehicles and sets off the car alarm. That's when the victim came outside and chased after him. The victim and his family chased the suspect into a backyard in the 4400 block of Saffron and cornered him.

Police said Gates immediately confessed to breaking into several vehicles. His confession was stopped so he could be read his Miranda rights, then he continued to confess to his crimes, according to police.

At this time, only two burglary victims have been identified, but investigators believe there are others. Police say Gates admitted to breaking into other vehicles, but can't remember what vehicles he entered and what property he took out of those vehicles.

At the time of Gates' arrest, Friendswood police say his pockets were full of property. A handicap placard was returned to a vehicle owner in the 4400 block of Saffron, but police say other property that the suspect had on his person likely belongs to other victims who had their vehicles burglarized overnight.

"Just vehicles and not homes. That was the thing that made me most happy because I was awake when he hit my car and I was unaware of it," said Smith.

Residents who discover that their vehicle was entered are encouraged to call the police, describe their stolen property and make a report.

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