HOUSTON – A third suspect accused of swiping more than $6 million worth of gold, watches and diamonds from a Houston jewelry store was arrested in Dallas Saturday, according to police.
U.S. Marshals and a Dallas SWAT found Kelvin O’ Brien in a nightclub, according to authorities.
O’Brien, his brother John O’Brien and Jason Kennedy, were charged with engaging in organized crime after police said they allegedly targeted a number of high-end stores in a series of well-organized heists. In fact, investigators believe the trio is responsible for as many as 30 thefts in Texas and Oklahoma, dating back to 2000.
John O’Brien and Kennedy were arrested September 6 and given a $12 million bond each, but Kelvin O’Brien remained at large until multiple tips led authorities to his whereabouts.
According to court documents, Houston police investigators were alerted to the trio after a break-in at the Karat 22 jewelry store in the 5600 block of Hillcroft on February 5, 2011.
The owner of the store told investigators his alarm went off that night, but when he checked security cameras from his home computer, he didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.
Assuming it was a false alarm, he went back to sleep.
But the next day, when he showed up at the store, he realized he’d been burglarized.
The victim told police someone had cut a hole through the roof of his store and cut their way into his vault.
The victim said 155 kilos of 22-carat gold, precious stones and Rolex watches were missing.
Surveillance video from a nearby business showed a pickup truck cruising the area on the night of the robbery, police said. Around 4:30 a.m., police said two men could be seen dragging heavy objects from the store to the truck.
Police said they later discovered the truck belonged to Kennedy.
Investigators also said they found several cut off blades at the scene of the crime, apparently used by the suspects to slice through the vault.
Houston investigators then spoke with an IRS North Texas Asset Forfeiture Task Force investigator, who said he’d been investigating a series of jewelry store burglaries in Texas and Oklahoma similar to the break-in at the Karat 22 store.
That investigator said he’d identified Kelvin and John O’Brien, who both own businesses in Dallas at which jewelry is bought and sold, as suspects.
Kelvin O’Brien was previously charged with a jewelry store burglary in Dallas in 2007.
Investigators said they were able to determine that the cut off blades found at the scene of the Houston burglary were sold exclusively at Home Depot, and later found surveillance footage of John O’Brien purchasing some of the blades near his home in Fort Worth.
Investigators said when they searched John O’Brien’s home, they found appraisals for stolen diamonds.
An HPD officer interviewed the president of Millennium Precious Metals, who said he’d bought gold from the O’Briens in the past.
He said the brothers came in with two Home Depot buckets containing 99 pounds of melted-down 22-carat gold to sell on February 7.
Millennium Precious Metals purchased that gold for $1.6 million, which the purchaser said he wired to John O’Brien’s bank account.
Four days later, the president of Millennium Precious Metals said the O’Briens came back with about 85 pounds of melted-down gold, which he also purchased – this time for $1.3 million.
Soon after the burglary, police said Kelvin O’Brien paid cash for a $445,000 home, put in an $85,000 pool, bought a $100,000 Land Rover and a $100,000 boat.
Investigators said they later interviewed Kennedy, who admitted that he’d committed the Karat-22 burglary with the O’Briens.
Kelvin O’Brien will be extradited to Houston for prosecution.