Local

Women fresh out of jail arrested

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Police in cities around the country use bait cars to catch criminals in the act -- and at times when they least expect it. Here in Houston, that's no different.

But there is one recent case that Houston police call highly unusual. Of all the auto theft cases handled by HPD, just a tiny percentage involve women.

Two women found themselves in no ordinary stolen vehicle. They were laughing at first, but they're headed for big trouble. They don't seem to have a care in the world -- smoking cigarettes, carrying on with each other, unaware the vehicle they're in is an HPD bait vehicle.

The women are wearing wristbands. That's because Martece Saddler, 19, and Erica Frazier, 20, were just released from the southeast jail. They can be heard bragging about what they've done.

"We are coming down Scott," one of the women says. "I swear to God, we got this Navigator, dog! I don't even know how to drive. Martece is driving."

After rummaging through the glove compartment and center console where police planted a wallet, the mood suddenly changes when the women hear sirens.

"I can't go back to jail," said one of the women. "I've got to get out of here."

They're not laughing anymore as their joyride is about to reach an unpleasant ending.

An officer orders, "Driver, exit the vehicle with your hands up. Face away from me, walk back, walk back."

"Okay. I'm pregnant," she said.

"Okay. Come on back," the officer said.

Houston police call it a first. Never before have they captured two women inside one of their bait vehicles.

Houston Police Sgt. J.M. Smith said, "This is what we are in the business for. So far this year, we have made 43 arrests in bait vehicles. We hope to break 80 by the end of the year."

Saddler was charged with theft and unauthorized use of a vehicle. Frazier was charged with theft. Both women have since bonded out of jail.

We put our exclusive Crime Tracker to work, taking a closer look at auto thefts. While they are down citywide by 23% through May of this year, our Crime Tracker identified three hot spots across Houston where auto thefts are on the rise. There are 194 reported cases in southwest Houston through May of this year, 194 vehicles reported stolen from the downtown-midtown area, and heading further north, we're taking you to the Greenspoint area where police handled 324 reported cases of auto theft.

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