North Texas

Arlington Family Helps Track Down Burglars, Leading to Own Stolen Goods

First, a fire damaged a North Texas family's home, then burglars broke in. But that Arlington family didn't stay victims for long. They turned the tables to track down the bad guys and possibly solve other cases.

It's been a long week for Amr Gomaa. It started with his car catching fire, without warning.

"This is the engine, the fire was coming from down there," Gomaa said.

The family had just made it home and the flames quickly took over the garage, and everything in it.

"My wife, she stored our wedding photos, my kids' baby photos," Gomaa said.

Luckily, firefighters contained the flames to the garage. But the family still had to spend a few nights in a hotel and they returned to worse news.

"This house door was unlocked," Gomaa said, stepping in his front door. "And I'm sure I locked it the day before. It was unlocked."

Inside Gomaa could see, "All the drawers were opened and the stuff was on the floor."

Burglars had stolen iPads, purses, jewelry and cameras filled with more family photos.

"It's just like a bad feeling, someone was into your house and stole your stuff and privacy."

That's where many victims give up, but Gomaa told his wife to check resale sites like Facebook Marketplace.

"Try, I mean just try," Gomaa said. "Two days later, I was at work and she called me and was like, someone's selling my stuff."

They called Arlington police and officers posing as buyers arrested two suspects.

Arlington Police Sgt. Karen Standback said the family did exactly the right thing.

"Don't go out and try to contact the suspects on your own, allow us to do the detective work," Standback said.

Back at the suspects' motel room, police found a huge stash of jewelry, purses and luggage with DFW Airport tags still attached. Most of the Gomaas' missing things were there, plus stolen loot from other cases.

"That we're going to hopefully be able to solve," Standback said.

To Gomaa, it's the bright ending to a dark week.

"I believe everything happens for a reason," Gomaa said. "So if this is the reason, I'm very satisfied, I'm very happy. That's enough."

Arlington police arrested Odessey Messer and Luis Gonzalez. Messer is charged with burglary, Gonzalez with theft.

Police said Messer admitted to seeing a news story about the house fire and figured it would be an easy target for a burglary.

Arlington police are now contacting DFW Airport to trace back who the luggage belongs to. They think it may have been stolen right off the carousel. They're also working with other agencies to connect victims with the other stolen goods.

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