Air, ground search for fourth fugitive comes up empty

Air, ground search for fourth fugitive comes up empty

Update: Feb. 15, 2013

After securing a search warrant for at least one of the suspects police took into custody during a Valentine's Day chase, Beaumont Police Department detectives found a sizeable cache of stolen big screen TVs, recording equipment, video game consoles, personal computers, iPads and other electronics in the 4400 block of Concord. 

Police later identified the residence as the home as Marcus Keith Johnson, 24, who was taken into custody after a short foot chase near Roland Road on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013.

Johnson was booked in the Jefferson County Jail on charges of felony theft, according to a BPD press release.

BPD spokesman Sgt. Rob Flores said the stolen property, some of which would not fit on two large tables during a press conference, was valued in excess of $25,000.

Flores said the chances of property owners getting their big screen TV or one of many computers back aren't good, however, because the thieves took steps to remove any identifying markings. 

"This one here you can actually see where they scratched that off," he said, pointing to a serial number on one of at least five flat screen TVs police recovered. 

Although serial numbers are the primary tool police use to identify and return stolen property to their owners, he said homeowners can use other means to identify their property in case it's stolen, including marking electronics and other valuables with nail polish or engravings.

"We identify these primarily through these numbers," he said, "but you can also mark it in other ways that's not obvious to the people who're stealing this stuff." 

Police familiar with the investigation said a large amount of cocaine and possibly other narcotics were also found while police served the search warrant. 

If convicted, Johnson faces five to 99 years in prison for the charge of felony theft. Johnson's criminal record includes guilty pleas to a couple of misdemeanor theft charges.

Previous reporting

About 12:05 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 14, a Beaumont Police Department patrol officer was flagged down in the 7000 block of Scotts Drive and informed that a suspicious silver pickup looked to be prowling the neighborhood, possibly casing homes for burglaries. According to BPD spokesman Sgt. Rob Flores, the patrol spotted a vehicle matching the description near the intersection of Eastex Freeway and Chinn Drive.  and attempted to stop it. When the driver refused to stop, a pursuit ensued.

The pursuit led to the intersection of Christopher Street and Bigner Road in north Beaumont, where all four occupants exited the vehicle and fled on foot at a dead end near the 3200 block of Roland Road. Flores said two were taken into custody immediately, and a third was found hiding in a nearby backyard. A Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office helicopter unit and BPD canine unit are currently searching for the fourth suspect. He was last seen fleeing east from Christopher Street.

As the Jefferson County helicopter unit circled overhead, Flores said the fourth suspect fled into swampy, wooded area adjacent to Christopher Street.

“There’s a lot of swamp. They’ve got a saltwater barrier back here. It’s a real wooded area,” he said. “We think he’s probably laying low.”

Inside the truck, officers found several electronic items that they believe might have been stolen in a burglary. Officers also found crack cocaine, a BPD press release said.

As of Thursday evening, police had not yet apprehended the fourth subject but were still searching for the fugitive. 

Stayed tuned to the for updates as they become available.