Weatherford Democrat

September 11, 2013

Smash and grabbed

Willow Park police arrest cigarette thieves shortly after they exit grocery store where employees hid, called 911


Weatherford Democrat

— By CHRISTIN COYNE



WILLOW PARK – Three Fort Worth men were caught Monday, Willow Park police say, after they broke into a grocery store for cigarettes while night employees were inside the business.

Less than a month after Brookshire’s in Willow Park was burglarized in August, thieves hit the store again around 2:45 a.m. Monday. 

But this time, the burglary suspects broke in while employees were at work stocking the shelves.

Surveillance video at the store showed the suspects’ vehicle circled the building a couple of times and parked next to employees’ cars, Willow Park Police Chief Brad Johnson said. The driver stayed in the car while two of the suspects threw a spark plug through the front doors and entered the store, according to Johnson.

After hearing the glass smashed, an employee called police and reported two men had broken in and were behind the front counter stealing cigarettes, according to Johnson.

Officers arrived on scene a minute after receiving the call while the caller provided the dispatcher a description of the men’s physical appearance and clothing, Johnson said.

The caller, who remained calm on the phone, stressed that the suspects didn’t know the employees were there, Johnson said.

Officers, who were covering both exits from the store parking lot, waited until the suspects left the building. 

Following the vehicle eastbound on Interstate 20, officers then pulled over the vehicle and arrested the men, Johnson said, adding that the apprehension of the suspects went just the way it should have and nobody was put in jeopardy.

Quintin Barnard Cramer, 26, Duke Jerome Roberson, 26, and Donie Earl Williams, 27, were arrested on charges of burglary of a building and booked into the Parker County Jail.

All of the stolen property – numerous cartons of cigarettes – was found in the back seat of the vehicle, according to police.

It’s possible one of the suspects arrested Monday night may have been involved with the Aug. 17 burglary at the Willow Park store but it is hard to tell, Johnson said. Cigarettes were reported taken during that break-in, as well.

Johnson said they will be distributing the surveillance footage to area law enforcement agencies who have also been dealing with similar burglaries.

Stolen cigarettes are a lucrative business right now, Johnson said, noting that Palo Pinto County authorities jailed two men after a similar burglary last month.

A Metroplex police officer taskforce followed two suspects from Fort Worth in early August and arrested them after they reportedly broke out the front glass of a convenience store off Interstate 20 south of Gordon during the early morning hours and began loading a large amount of cigarettes into their vehicle, the Mineral Wells Index reported.