by ANDY SEVILLA
KYLE — An observant citizen helped the Kyle Police Department arrest a man suspected of committing multiple car burglaries in the Plum Creek subdivision on Dec. 30.Officers arrested Randy Aviles, 17, of Kyle, after catching him in the midst of burglarizing a vehicle, police said.
Aviles was booked into the Hays County jail on four counts of vehicle burglary, all Class A misdemeanors; one count of possession of a prohibited firearm, a third-degree felony; and one county of firearm theft, a state jail felony Aviles was released on Jan. 1 on $33,000 bail.
According to Kyle police chief Jeff Barnett, the incident occurred at around 4 a.m. in the 5000 block of Hartson Street.
Officers were dispatched when an alert citizen saw someone walking around their property. That prompted the citizen to call police, which were dispatched on the report of a suspicious person. Upon arrival, officers found Aviles in the process of burglarizing a GMC Denali, police said.
“He was literally inside of someone else’s vehicle and going through the contents of it,” Barnett said.
Aviles was found to have numerous stolen items in his possession. He was then arrested on suspicion of multiple vehicle burglaries.
According to Barnett, Aviles is believed to have burglarized at least five vehicles. Three of the five vehicles were on the property where police arrested him. Barnett said Aviles’ crimes were of opportunity.
“[Aviles] went on a spree to see what he could come up with. He wasn’t targeting a specific person, vehicle or residence. It seems he was simply pulling on door handles,” Barnett said.
Once under arrest, officers recovered a stolen rifle, handgun and a knife in Aviles’ possession. Barnett said he didn’t believe Aviles was going after weapons, but that he found them in unlocked vehicles. He was also found to be in possession of a stolen phone, radio, vehicle accessories and sunglasses.
Kyle Police are continuing to investigate the crime; Barnett said they believe one or more people assisted Aviles. However, no further arrests have been made.
Barnett praised the efforts of the citizen whose tip helped lead to Aviles’ arrest. He said diligence from citizens can help officers catch criminals in the act.
“It does happen from time to time, often with a tip from a citizen or an alert officer in the right place at the right time,” he said.
However, many of the vehicle burglaries in Kyle are a result of suspects successfully opening unlocked doors.
According to a statistic from the Kyle Police Department, the department responds to roughly 120 to 150 vehicle burglaries per year. Of those, Barnett said 95 percent are a result of suspects pulling on door handles.
Barnett stressed the need to hide or remove valuables from inside vehicles. Ensuring all doors are locked is one of the most effective ways to prevent thefts, he added. Car alarms can also be an extra deterrent.
But should a person find someone attempting to burglarize a vehicle on their property, Barnett said calling police is the best defense. Observing where the suspect travels and keeping a visual on the burglar is key.
“We recommend to observe from the safety of their residence and to call police,” Barnett said. “We are not recommending a confrontation. We prefer [citizens] to be a good witness from a safe vantage point.”
If convicted, Aviles faces up to two years in jail and up to a $10,000 fine for the theft of a firearm. He also faces between two to ten years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine for the possession of a prohibited weapon.
ANDY SEVILLA reports for the Hays Free Press where this story was originally published. It is reprinted here through a news partnership between the Free Press and the San Marcos Mercury.