Caught on tape! Thieves strike Tyler jewelry store

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - By Jamey Boyum - email
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VAN ZANDT COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Three people were arrested for taking jewelry from Murphy the Jeweler on south Broadway in Tyler, but not before they led authorities on a chase topping 100 miles an hour. Dashcam video caught much of that chase.

"At the 527 mile marker I observed the vehicle," said Lt. Cody Grubbs, with Van Zandt County. "There were no other cars behind it so I attempted to stop the vehicle and he began to flee as you can see here, weaving in and out of traffic on the service road, running 100 plus the whole time. Never got under a100 until the pursuit ended."

Joe Rodriguez was running because one of his two passengers had just been sticky-finger shopping at Murphey the Jeweler, say authorities. Valerie Contreras entered the store just after three and asked to see the jewelry.

"[She wanted] to see some of the bracelets and she did show them to her and when she got them out of the case, she grabbed the entire display," said Kim Benson, with Murphey the Jeweler.

An investigator with the Smith County D.A.'s Office spotted the suspect's SUV and followed as they made their way to I-20. In Van Zandt County, Lt. Cody Grubbs was running lights and siren.

"He just disregarded everything and he hit a when he did that I made my track right along with him," said Grubbs. "This is where he blows a stop sign."

Rodriguez nearly rolled just after that, but veered back onto I-20 for more dangerous maneuvering. The chase only lasted 12 miles. It ended slowly when Rodriguez apparently ran out of gas. Six police entities converged on the SUV and arrested the three.

"We located the five bracelets inside the six disc CD changer," said Grubbs.

Where are the bracelets now?

"They're taking a break in the safe and we'll probably put them back out...but not right away," said Grubbs.

Valerie Contreras is charged with felony theft. Joe Rodriguez was charged with felony theft and evading arrest. The third person in the car was released from custody.

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