Burglars Working In Gangs

Thursday, November 20th 2008, 9:39 pm
By: News On 6

By Lori Fullbright, News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Home break-ins are no longer a one-man operation. Tulsa police say they are fighting gangs of burglars and on a scale that even surprises them.

This is not your average burglars who break into a house or two and takes a few things to pawn for drugs. These are gangs with several members, professionals, hitting dozens of homes a week.

Burglars are parasites who feed off of other people's hard work. They come into the one place people should be allowed to feel most safe and they take, without care of how violating it is or what they steal.

The latest trend is they are working in gangs and stealing from others and splitting the take.

"I didn't realize before I came up to burglary. Didn't realize there were these gangs doing this, making a living doing burglaries," said TPD Sgt. Brandon Watkins.

Police recently arrested Lafayette Wilson, who they say was the head of the Deuce 9 Gang, which is a subset of the Crips.  They were stealing TV's from homes and selling them in parking lots.

There's also a warrant out for one of his minions, Terrance Sanders and now those burglaries have dropped dramatically.

"They've either changed what they're doing or completely quit. We've shut that gang down for the time being," said Sgt. Watkins.

They arrested Cody Lee and say he was running an even bigger gang of thieves. They're now looking for his employees.

"These guys are making a living, paying hotel rooms, paying for cars, making house payments, they're hitting 60, 70, 80 people," said Sgt. Watkins.

Even last week's arrest of John Ridgeway, police say broke up a huge burglary and fraud ring that involves hundreds of victims, stolen items and fake ID's.

New burglary gangs are popping up every week and are now the top priority for Tulsa's burglary unit.

"They'll keep popping up and we'll keep knocking ‘em down," said Sgt. Watkins.

Another thing that surprised detectives about these burglary gangs is all these professionals know each other. The good news is they often turn on each other, which can help police.

The burglary unit recently assigned one officer to work intelligence on these groups, to make it easier to track and arrest them.