Suspects jump into bayou, swim away from officers after chase

By Amanda Perez , Marisa Breese - News Producer

HOUSTON - Houston police searched along a northeast Houston bayou Tuesday morning for three men believed to be connected to a burglary.

Officers first responded to that burglary at Citi Trends in the 8500 block of Mesa Drive at around 12:35 a.m. A witness reported the theft after spotting burglars backing a silver F-250 truck into the store.

Police said as many as six suspects may have been involved and once the thieves got inside the store, the group stole a safe.

J.C. Charles lives nearby and said he heard the commotion but at first, didn't think anything of it.

"I heard a loud crash. During that time, they usually dump the dumpster across the street, so I thought that's what it was," said Charles.

About 15 minutes later, Charles looked outside and saw police activity around the store.

About one hour after the break-in, officers noticed a silver F-250 with rear end damage driving near Airline Drive. When police signaled for the truck to pull over, the driver took off, leading officers on a chase.

The truck eventually jumped an embankment, landing near Halls Bayou, close to Homestead Road and Tidwell Road. The vehicle stopped close to the bayou, and that's when investigators said the three men jumped out and ran off.

Police saw two of the men jump into the bayou and swim away, but lost sight of the third person.

Officers set up a perimeter and called in K-9 units and helicopters to search the area, but couldn't find any of the suspects. The safe was not found.

"The safe was not in the back of the truck, so we don't know if they took the safe somewhere else and were going to do another smash and grab or exactly what was going on," said Lt. Larry Crowson, with the Houston Police Department.

Police said a similar break-in happened at a CitiTrends in the 17500 block of Imperial Valley Drive last Friday morning. In that case, thieves also used a vehicle to back into the store and then stole a safe. At this point, it is unknown if the crimes are connected.

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