In September 2010, a Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) prison guard was arrested for stealing beer and cigarettes from a convenience store. His prosecution will be aided by cell phone photos and video that show the guard and his accomplice celebrating their ill-gotten gains, as well as surveillance footage from the store and the guard’s confession.
At 1:30 a.m. on September 23, 2010, two men entered an E-Z Mart near Silsbee, Texas. One had dark shorts, a red T-shirt and a baseball cap, and the other had a cast on his arm and wore a gas mask. The pair grabbed four cases of beer and ran out of the store. Surveillance videos showed the men jumping into a small extended-cab pickup and speeding off. Deputies responded to the scene and processed the video evidence.
At around 4:30 a.m., the man with the dark shorts and red T-shirt returned. This time he wasn’t wearing a baseball cap. He tried to buy a carton of cigarettes, but produced an obviously fake ID which the clerk refused to honor. The man then ran out of the store with the cigarettes without paying for them. Surveillance video showed him driving off in a Chevy S-10 with the front license plate on the dash – the same vehicle used in the previous theft.
At around 6:30 a.m. a Sheriff’s sergeant drove past a Chevy S-10 matching the suspect’s vehicle. The driver, TDCJ prison guard Thomas Stark, 20, was wearing dark shorts and a red T-shirt. The 19-year-old passenger in his truck, Justin Patterson, had a cast on his arm.
“I found two cell phones in the truck,” said Sgt. Jerry Roberts of the Hardin County Sheriff’s Office. The last message on one phone, sent at approximately 12:30 that morning, said, “We’re about to go on a beer run.” The text message became evidence.
The other cell phone contained photos and a video showing Stark and Patterson bragging about stealing the beer. One of the photos included a tub filled with beer cans and packs of cigarettes. Stark reportedly confessed that he and Patterson had committed the thefts.
“This was one of those beyond stupidity things, to go back to the same store wearing the same clothes where just hours before you had stolen beer and then steal cigarettes,” observed Sgt. Roberts. “If all the crooks would be as smart as these guys were, we probably would have a jail full of people and no unsolved crime in the county.”
Source: The Silsbee Bee
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