Burglary victims use fake Facebook profile to catch accused suspect

AUSTIN - Four burglary victims, who had thousands of dollars worth of personal items stolen from their home, used social media to gain evidence against the accused suspect.

According to an arrest affidavit, Nicholas Villarreal Gaitan, 24, is accused of burglary of a residence, a second-degree felony.

On Sunday, May 21, 2017, one of the victims reported to police that the home she shares with three other people was burglarized while all of them were away from the property. When they returned home, they found their back door had been forced open and several pickets from their fence had been removed, leaving a hole someone could crawl through, police said.

The affidavit states an estimated 100 items were stolen from the residents. A few of the most expensive items include jewelry from Kendra Scott and Michael Kors worth $2,500, 12 to 14 pairs of Air Jordan shoes with an estimated value of $1,800 to $2,400, and two "mouth grills" worth $600.

One of the victim's told police Gaitan was an acquaintance of one of the members of the household because he had been inside of the home a few times prior to the burglary. Police said the victims began to suspect Gaitan was involved in the burglary because he continued to call one of the victim's phone throughout the day asking whether or not anyone was home.

The victims also told police that Gaitan had previously been convicted of burglary in 2010 and was recently released from prison. Gaitan was also known to sell property out of his trunk, the affidavit said. Investigators noted there was a  similarity between the May burglary case and Gaitan's previous conviction. In the case seven years ago, fence pickets were also removed from the home.

After construction workers positively confirmed to one of the victims that they saw Gaitan at the scene of the crime, one of the male victims created a fake Facebook profile and pretended to be a girl.

During a conversation with the fake profile and Gaitan, Gaitan allegedly sent a picture in which he was wearing several of the items stolen from the home on May 21. According to the affidavit, the victim also accused Gaitan of giving several of the stolen Kendra Scott jewelry items to his sister, who he's allegedly living with in Buda, Texas.

If convicted, Gaitan faces two to 20 years in prison.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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