Charges Include Engaging in Organized Retail Theft

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – A third suspect in a string of 2017 burglaries was taken into custody by Houston County law enforcement officials on Tuesday, June 5 and charged with burglary of a building, evading arrest and engaging in organized retail theft.

Forty-two year old Clifton Wiley Burns was booked into custody for his alleged role in the burglaries of the Lake Side Food Mart in Ratcliff and the Latexo Hotspot. He is also a suspect in several other East Texas burglaries.

Burns, who has a listed address in Conroe, was picked up from the Limestone County Jail by Houston County Sheriff’s Office deputies after investigators determined the 2017 string of burglaries all roughly fit the same pattern. The perpetrator(s) entered the business establishments by breaking the glass of the front door, taking the cash register drawer and cigarettes.

During the Ratcliff break-in, several signed checks were also stolen by an accomplice of Burns. The accomplice was identified as 37-year-old Billy Burns from Yoakum, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

When B. Burns attempted to cash a check at a bank in Conroe, the bank called Lake Side Grocery for verification, but before the check was cashed, Burns left the financial institution. Video footage and still photos, however, were acquired during the botched transaction, the affidavit indicated.

The images allowed Houston County Sheriff’s Office investigator Mike McCreight to reach out to other law enforcement agencies and determine the person shown in the photos and video was Billy Joe Burns.

C. Burns, meanwhile, was spotted with B. Burns at the Express Truck Stop in Crockett 20 minutes after the Lake Side burglary was reported on Oct. 24, 2017.

B. Burns was apprehended on Nov. 15 and charged with burglary of a building, a second degree felony.

Another accomplice in the string of burglaries, Gary Lee Wood, was arrested without incident and booked into the Houston County Jail on Jan. 10.  on charges of burglary of a building and engaging in organized criminal activity.

C. Burns was charged with burglary of a building, evading arrest and engaging in organized retail theft.

The burglary and evading arrest charges are from different counties. The charge of engaging in organized retail theft is from Houston County and is considered as a third degree felony.

According to Section 12.34 of the Texas Penal Code, “An individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the third degree shall be punished by imprisonment in the institutional division for any term of not more than 10 years or less than two years. In addition to imprisonment, an individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the third degree may be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000.”

Burns is currently held at the Houston County Jail.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.