Local Police Officer’s Sharp Eye Nets Suspect of Several Burglaries
A local police officer’s sharp eye and keen sense of suspicion led to the arrest of a burglar who has at least seven convictions on his record. On Tuesday, April 13, Lexington Police Officer Fred Kelly was on his regular patrol at 10:30 p.m. when he noticed an unfamiliar vehicle approach Cherry Street at Hwy. 77. The officer noticed that the vehicle had an expired registration sticker, so he conducted a traffic stop at the intersection of Cherry Street and Loop 123.
The driver had no driver’s license in his possession, but he provided Kelly with his name and date of birth. He said his name was Thomas William Coleman, born June 9, 1980.
As Kelly spoke to the suspect, he began to get suspicious because Coleman seemed to have a lack of knowledge of his own personal information. Kelly also noticed several items in Coleman’s vehicle that were out of place, like key blanks, bolt cutters and pad locks that were broken or disassembled.
Kelly got Coleman out of the vehicle and on a consent search of the vehicle, he located a pipe wrench, about 150 keys and pieces of pipe that could be used as a cheater bar to gain leverage on the pipe wrench. The officer also located three money bags with large amounts of quarters in them. Kelly found Coleman’s cell phone and called the number listed as Coleman’s mother. She asked about some tattoos on his body and said, “Yes that’s my son, Thomas.”
Coleman began to tell Kelly that none of the items in the vehicle were his and did not know what they were for. He said the keys belonged to his cousin and the tools were in the front to prevent any damage in the rear of the vehicle, where he had other tools.
Since Coleman had no proof of insurance and no driver’s license, Kelly took him into custody, transporting him to the Lee County Law Enforcement Center where he was booked. At the LCLEC, the suspect’s fingerprints were taken and entered into the state data base.
Once the fingerprints were run, the suspect was identified as Ronnie Lee Coleman, whose birth date is different from the one he had given the officer earlier. It was also learned that the name he had originally given Coleman was an alias, one that he had used several other times.
Kelly said, “Even his mom lied to me, telling me his name was Thomas, which turns out to be his cousin’s name.”
Kelly also learned that Coleman had a rap sheet “a mile long”, with an extensive history of burglary of coin operated machines, theft, criminal mischief and burglary of habitations. His first conviction was in 1998 when he was only 18 years old. It was for a burglary of coin operated machines in Baytown, Texas.
The following day, on April 14, the Lexington Police Department received a report that the Eagle Storage on CR 405 in Lexington had been burglarized. On April 15, victims of the Eagle Storage burglary were able to identify some of the items confiscated from Coleman’s vehicle by Officer Kelly.
Kelly said, “Once we found his true identity, we filed more charges on him, besides the charges of having no proof of financial responsibility and no driver’s license. We also charged him with failing to identify – giving a fictitious name and possession of burglary tools – criminal instruments. The Sheriff ’s Department also hit him with three charges for burglary of Eagle Storage and are looking into hitting him with another one concerning robbery of a convenience store, for which he is a suspect. I can’t be sure, but I think he was just finished with his job at Eagle Storage and maybe heading to the car wash to hit it when I caught up with him.”
Coleman, age 29, is from Cleveland, Texas. His convictions show he has been arrested all over central and south Texas, including Giddings, Bastrop, Caldwell, Houston and more. He continues to be held in the Lee County Jail.