Cops play Santa to burglarized family, police get new leads
POSTED: Wednesday, December 16, 2009 - 6:54pm
UPDATED: Thursday, April 8, 2010 - 3:05am
TYLER — It's incredible generosity shown by two Tyler police officers. They not only comforted a family who lost everything in a burglary, but they bought the family new presents to put under their christmas tree.
Wednesday, what could be a break in that case and several others around the neighborhood.
"The drawers were out, pictures were everywhere," Erika Velasquez said.
No blankets, no tv, not even the dog food left behind when crooks forced open the Velasquez family's front door.
After seeing the four and six-year-olds' rooms — left completely empty — and the spot under the christmas tree bare; both Officer Matt Leigeber and Scott Behrend were overwhelmed.
"To a child saving up pennies, for someone to come in and steal that penny jar? How do you explain that to a child?" said Officer Scott Behrend.
This wasn't just another burglary call for the two who say no family deserved this tragedy any less than the Velasquezs.
"There's no one else who needs this stuff. These are hardworking people." said Officer Behrend.
What's worse, Behrend says, it's happening to a family who's father just lost a job a week before.
Leigeber says he immediately thought of the kids, "20 years from now, 30 years from now; they're going to remember the day they go their house broken into."
When Behrend approached his fellow officer about providing a christmas for the family out of their own pockets, Leigeber was already on the phone, working to make it happen.
"It was, in our view, a very small token we could give this family," Behrend said.
They arrived that same night with presents ready to go under the tree.
"It's just to recall, to think what they did, does affect the family but spirits aren't broken," Velasquez said.
Other officers followed suit and so did the Velasquez' neighbors.
"One lady gave us a new tv right here," said Velasquez' daughter.
Velasquez says she's not worried about what will happen to the crooks next.
"There's someone always watching down here and up there," she said.
Just as we talked to Mrs. Velasquez; officers went out just a few blocks away, where they found what could be the key to the burglaries in the neighborhood.
Not even a mile from Van street, police say burglars broke into a house on Baldwin.
This time: a big screen tv, video games, and a console taken.
"It's just stuff that people work for and right now people out of work; it just hurts a lot more," said Angelica Perez, the homeowner.
But this time, a neighbor called police when she saw this white truck.
"This is the break we need," said Officer Don Martin, Tyler Police Department.
Officers chased the truck to Garden Valley Road where, they say, four teenagers bolted from the truck leaving just the driver to get arrested.
Investigators are looking for the three teen boys and a teen girl.
"There possibly could be a connection to the burglary on Van Street two days ago," Martin said.
The 14-year-old caught driving a relatives' truck now facing charges, not only for having the stolen goods in the truck, but also carrying brass knuckles..
Angela Perez says she's grateful for the call from a neighbor and catch from police, but disappointed so many have fallen victim.
"It's scary and sad at the same time," Perez said.