NEW: Police Continue Investigation into Business Burglary, Vandalism Spree

Houston police said an early Saturday crime wave in Ava is not believed related to similar break-ins at Houston.

Houston’s MFA Agri-Services on East Highway 17 was hit early Saturday after thieves broke glass in a front door and rolled out a four cubic foot safe from the manager’s office that contained about $1,600 in cash and checks, police said. The burglars also took knives and apparel. Before the offense was committed, criminals created several diversions, including breaking glass doors at Houston Sonic and The Bank of Houston, police said. A third tactic occurred when someone with a “private name, private number” on caller i.d. said a residential burglary was occurring and hung up hurriedly by telling a dispatcher, “I have to go.”

A Houston police officer discovered the Sonic damage at 3:06 a.m. About 10 minutes later, a dispatcher received the home burglary call occurring at 305 May St., which does not exist in Houston. The bank damage was discovered when an employee arrived at 7:40 a.m.

The crimes has several similarities to a string of burglaries late Friday or early Saturday in Ava. The Ava Police Department arrested three suspects who stole money, tools and knives from the MFA. They attempted to break into the safe. The subjects also gained entry into a local pawn shop and residence, where the homeowner was able to run them off.

Houston Police Officer Brad Evans traveled to Ava on Monday to interview the suspects, who denied any involvement in the Houston crimes. Officers are working to develop a timetable for the Ava crimes to rule out that the suspects could have been in Houston. Evans said Tuesday that the Ava suspects also offered to take polygraph examinations.

Houston police were optimistic that the Douglas County connection would pan out because both involved MFA stores and similar tactics. The investigation continues.

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