When three people broke into two cars in the recreation center parking lot June 13, they probably didn’t know that somebody saw something that would ultimately lead to their arrests and the arrests of several others involved in a metroplex-wide crime ring.A partial license plate number recorded by a witness led TCU Police Detective Vicki Lawson to a rental car agency in San Antonio that would eventually lead to arrest warrants for four suspects involved in a Dallas/Fort Worth area crime spree, said TCU Police Detective Sgt. Kelly Ham.
David LaRose, Kathryn Paquette and Kevin Strong were charged with thefts in Waits Hall committed in early June. Chase Matheny was charged with the burglary of a car in the Tom Brown-Pete Wright parking lot, according to TCU Police reports.
Further investigation by other area law enforcement agencies has led police to other suspects related to crimes in multiple jurisdictions around the D/FW area, including Parker, Tarrant and Dallas counties, said Jeremy Rhoden, a Fort Worth Police Department detective.
The suspects used stolen credit cards to purchase cell phones and three Motorola radios from Target, which were likely being used to enhance their infrastructure, Ham said.
“They were starting to get a little bit more sophisticated,” Ham said, “but by then, we were on to them.”
Rhoden said the suspects were not only involved in burglaries, but were also stealing credit cards and checks, which they would use by creating fake identifications.
He said there were about 14 people committing crimes on a regular basis and about 10 more who were on the “outer fringes” of their network.
“They’d trade stolen cars, dope and IDs with each other,” said Chris White, a detective at the Tarrant County Regional Auto Theft Task Force.
They just happened to be a group of people who were associated and happened to commit these crimes to survive,” Rhoden said.
TCU Police began looking into the crimes when a computer was reported stolen from a car near Waits Hall June 4. According to a sworn statement by one of the suspects, the June 4 theft was the first time they had set foot on the TCU campus, Lawson said.
According to TCU Police reports, the suspects committed seven more burglaries on campus over the next 16 days.
No charges were filed for the other four crimes the suspects committed on campus.
Ham said the stolen drugs kept the suspects awake long enough to commit more crimes while also fueling their need for stolen property that could be quickly sold.
“Basically they’d wake up, do their methamphetamine or speed, and then go out and play all night,” Ham said.
Two suspects told Ham they were stealing just for the thrill, although one of the suspects said without the drugs, they would not have likely committed the crimes.
Police reports indicate that the suspects stole items valued at a total of $6,412.69 from the TCU campus. “My guess is this whole group will be going down for at least 10 years a piece,” Ham said.
Strong was arrested in an area motel. Two days later, Paquette and LaRose were stopped in a stolen vehicle by the auto task force and arrested for their outstanding warrants for the campus thefts.
LaRose, Strong and Paquette are all being held at the Tarrant County Jail on multiple bonds for charges filed by TCU. LaRose and Paquette are also being held on numerous other charges from area agencies including multiple credit card abuse charges, according to Tarrant County Jail records.
Chase Matheny was also arrested on an outstanding warrant during a home search in Mansfield by Child Protective Services. When CPS and a narcotics officer entered the home, they found an empty bong on a table. Before being handcufffed, Matheny asked to smoke a cigarette that contained two grams of methamphetamine.
He is being held at the Tarrant County Jail on a burglary of a vehicle charge filed by TCU, along with drug charges from the incident during his arrest.
Matheny is being held without bond due to a weapons charge by another agency, according to jail records.