Operation 2x4 Nails 57 Suspects
May 3, 2007 - Houston police officers from various HPD divisions have concluded a fifteen-month long investigation which resulted in the arrests of 57 suspects related to construction site thefts. Seventeen stolen vehicles and assorted building materials, valued in excess of $200,000 have also been recovered. Initial reports were made in January 2006 regarding stolen vans being used to transport stolen building materials from construction sites.
Officer Craig Kivela, of the Central Patrol Division, noted similarities in construction site thefts in downtown Houston, Midtown and the Heights. During his investigation, Kivela discovered homeless persons were using stolen multi-passenger vans during these thefts. Kivela learned these suspects were being directed and organized by a small group of ringleaders and also identified about 40 cases believed to all be related.
In early March 2007, members of the Major Offenders, Auto Theft, Gang, Central Patrol and South Central Patrol Divisions met to formulate a plan to dismantle and arrest additional members of this organization. “Operation 2x4” was initiated at this time and the HPD Auto Theft Division became the lead division. During a four week period, utilizing undercover officers and confidential informants, the operation maintained constant surveillance of the suspects, which allowed indispensable evidence to be collected.
On March 30, a number of suspects were arrested which included four of the group’s ringleaders, and on April 6, 2007, an additional group of suspects was arrested, including its ringleader.
On May 2, members of various HPD divisions and City and State Regulatory offices participated in the operation’s second phase. Officers of the Major Offenders Division Cargo Theft and Fence Detail, with assistance from the Environmental Unit, North Patrol Differential Response Team, Central Patrol’s Tactical and Gang Units and the Auto Theft Division, raided resale shops identified through the investigation as purchasing and selling stolen construction materials. Also assisting were members of the Neighborhood Protection Corp., State Comptroller’s office and the City of Houston’s Fire Marshal, Code Enforcement, and Finance and Administration offices. Officers seized approximately $20,000 in building materials and assorted property.
As a direct result of “Operation 2x4,” numerous suspects were arrested and charged with felony offenses including engaging in organized criminal activity, theft, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle (UUMV) and delivery of a controlled substance.
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