A man and woman were arrested Monday in connection to a string of cons that led to area burglaries around McLennan County, authorities said Tuesday.
Rio Calvin Mitchell, 27, and Julie Tootsie Costa, 26, both of Waco, were arrested after the pair posed as a couple interested in buying vehicles or other items from residents within the last few weeks. Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said the couple would inquire about items at the homes in order to gain access to homes and rob them.
On Sunday evening, police were called to a suspicious person call in the 3700 block of North 21st Street when the pair entered a home without permission, asking about a TV. Swanton said Costa was issued a criminal trespassing warning and police arrested Mitchell on an outstanding burglary warrant.
After Costa’s arrest, McLennan County Sheriff’s Office detectives joined the investigation after authorities believed the pair had been responsible for other burglaries outside Waco. Authorities recovered evidence at the home on North 21th Street and a subsequent search warrant was issued for a motel room in the area.
Earlier this month, police warned area residents of the scamming couple when detectives began investigating at least two cases in which residents were alleged victims of the couple, Swanton said.
Police believe the pair would respond to ads for items for sale, or go to a resident’s home and express interest in buying an item. They would make arrangements to return the following day with money, Swanton said.
Before leaving, the woman would say she is pregnant and ask to use a bathroom. While she was in the home, the man would distract the resident in order to allow the woman to steal items, police reported.
West Police Chief Darryl Barton said detectives are investigating at least three similar cases believed to be connected to the couple, but in only one instance was a home burglarized. He said the incidents happened within the last month.
Barton said in at least one of the incidents, elderly citizens answered their door and were greeted by people who claimed to be with the government. The couple told residents that they wanted to help the citizens receive more money in monthly checks and the couple would convince the victims to let them come into the home.
“The second person claimed they needed to use the restroom. The victim then found the person in the other room pilfering through her things,” Barton said.
In the second incident, the suspects allegedly told the elderly victim they wanted to buy a camper that was parked in the backyard. The couple went into the victim’s home and used the same ruse to use the restroom while the second suspect distracted the home owner.
“After they left, it was determined that (the resident’s) wallet with her driver’s license and personal cards were stolen,” Barton said.
Authorities said additional charges may be coming against the couple as other agencies continue to investigate similar reports.
“These arrests go to show how important community and police relationships truly are,” Swanton said in a press release. “Without the assistance of the citizens involved in helping us, this pair could have gone unnoticed and victimizing our community for quite some time.”
Mitchell was arrested Monday on two burglary of a habitation charges, a theft charge and three traffic warrants. He was booked in to McLennan County Jail, where he remained Tuesday with bond listed at $22,000.
Costa was arrested on two burglary charges, a theft charge, two possession of a controlled substance charges, criminal trespass of a habitation, failure to ID, and was being held on outstanding warrants from Collin County for two counts of possession of a controlled substance. She remained in custody at McLennan County Jail Tuesday with bond listed at $35,000.