Police search for homeless man in connection to break-ins


by KRIS BETTS / KVUE News and photojournalist DATHAN HULL

Bio | Email | Follow: @KrisB_KVUE


Posted on January 30, 2014 at 11:19 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 30 at 11:20 PM

AUSTIN -- Police are looking for a suspect they believe is responsible for breaking into more than 20 homes in the Southwest Austin area at night while people are at home sleeping.

Two weeks ago, South Austin homeowner Aaron Whitehead discovered his fence and back door had been broken by someone trying to break-in.

“Luckily, we’ve got two really big dogs so he was scared away,” said Whitehead.

The break-ins started back in July, according to APD detective Jared Manning.

“[They were] nighttime burglaries and forced entry through the rear of the residence while the victims were home,” Manning told KVUE. “Burglary of a residence at nighttime, that’s pretty brazen. When you know people are home and you decide to break into people’s homes in the state of Texas, that’s pretty brazen.”

In August, APD received a suspicious persons call and came into contact with 60-year-old Gary Whiteis. Officers did not have enough evidence to arrest him at the time, since he was not committing any criminal offense, but later DNA testing connected Whiteis to the break-ins and APD issued a warrant for his arrest.

Because Whiteis is homeless, Manning says it has been difficult tracking him down.

However, on Jan. 16, an APD corporal thought he spotted Whiteis on Convict Hill. By the time he was able to turn around, Whiteis had darted into the nearby woods.

Air One, APD’s helicopter, and a K-9 unit searched for Whiteis on the Greenbelt, but officers were not able to track him down.

Whiteis is missing half of one foot so he walks with a noticeable limp. APD also told KVUE Whiteis typically rides a bicycle.

Each patrol shift has told their officers to be on the lookout for Whiteis.