ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Acting on a tip about a suspected burglar, an investigator with the Angelina County Sheriff's Office followed the man and found dozens of the sort items one would find in a garage or a storage building Thursday morning.
Once the man was in custody, he allegedly admitted to burglarizing 20 homes in the Diboll and Beulah area.
"We caught one of our burglars that has at least admitted to over twenty burglaries," said Angelina County Sheriff Greg Sanches. "In fact, when we did, he had a car full, truck full of stolen property."
Curtis Gabehart, 53, of Trinity, is still being held in the Angelina County Jail on two state-jail felony charges of burglary of a habitation and two misdemeanor traffic charges. Collectively, his bail has been set at $11,000.
"Hopefully, we'll get them sent down and get them and get them some time because when they steal like this again, it puts people out, and a lot of those folks are looking at some prison time in the future," Sanches said.
Sanches said that a private citizen called one of his investigators and gave a possible location of the burglary suspect, and an hour or two later, the woman said her co-worker was following the suspect's vehicle.
The ACSO investigator was able to locate the suspect by staying on the phone with the private citizen that was following Gabehart. Gabehart was arrested at the scene at approximately 11:55 a.m. Thursday, and transported to the Angelina County Jail.
One of the two arrest affidavits stated that an ACSO deputy was dispatched out to a residence in the 1200 block of FM 1818 Wednesday in reference to a burglary that occurred the day before. The complainant said someone entered his metal storage building and took a chainsaw, a leaf blower, and a weed eater.
A different deputy responded to another burglary that occurred at a residence in the 4800 block of Buttermilk Road that was less than a quarter mile from the residence on FM 1818 that was burglarized. Both properties were burglarized on Tuesday.
Dennis Lenderman, the complainant at the second address, told the deputy that someone had entered his garage and storage building. The suspect took a chainsaw, a compound bow, and a vehicle jump starter box. Lenderman said the burglar stole about $1,200 worth of yard equipment from his property.
"I feel violated," Lenderman said. "I don't worry about stuff ... until you come in and find your stuff that you worked hard for, and it's stolen."
In addition, the man told the deputy that he had set up a game camera on his property, and it took four photographs of the suspect and his vehicle, a late 1990s-model Ford Explorer with a broken tail light and a Houston Texans sticker in the back window.
"Sure enough, two or three days later, this guy shows up and parks right in front of the camera," Lenderman said. "I've got several pictures of him in his car, putting the stuff in his car."
Many other homeowners in the Diboll and Beulah area who didn't want to go on camera said the burglaries took place in broad daylight.
However, Sanches said there is one more person on the loose, and he urged everyone to start being more proactive.
"It's very important for people to help each other, and we need neighbors to help each other, look out for each other, set up alarm systems, cameras," Sanches said.
"I'm just glad we had some cameras up," Lenderman said. "But there's going to be a lot more cameras here now."