It was a little after 8 p.m. on Monday when a convenience store owner pulled up in front of his suburban home in northwest Houston. With his keys in hand, he walked up to his front door, just like he always did, no doubt happy to finally spend a little quality time with his wife and two kids and shake off a long day of work.
As he was opening his front door, the man heard a rustling sound coming from the bushes. Suddenly, three men wearing masks and gloves rushed out of the darkness and pushed him inside the home and onto the ground. Two more masked men in dark clothes appeared and corralled the man, his wife and one of his children into the living room, where the family was held at gunpoint. At some point, Harris County investigators say, one of the intruders found a bunch of scarves in the home and tied up the three hostages.
It was clear that the gunmen knew what they were doing. While the family sat in the living room, tied up in terror, several of the intruders ran into the master bedroom and went right for the safe. They didn't try to crack the combo, but rather yanked it right off of its perch.
But where was the store-owner's other child?
His 17-year-old daughter was in another bedroom upstairs when the armed robbers forced their way in. When she heard what was going on, she locked the door, probably afraid to breathe as the gunmen walked around upstairs in the nearby rooms. She did, however, manage to grab her cell phone and call 911.
For some reason, the intruders never tried to get into her room or break down the door, investigators say. Maybe it was because they knew they were short on time.
Sure enough, Harris County Sheriff's deputies arrived at the home, located along the 9500 block of Pearsall Drive, before the job was finished. The five robbers had a get-away car out front, but couldn't get to it, so they decided to make a run for it on foot. One deputy spotted a robber racing away and gave chase for a few hundred yards, but authorities say he retreated because the crime scene was still unstable and he had to go back to help.
So far, the thieves have eluded capture.
But authorities don't think the men have much of a chance.
"We're fast and furiously chasing down leads," Lt. Jeff Stauber said. "I feel confident that some time in the near future we'll have some arrests."
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Stauber said that a gun used by the robbers was found at the home, along with "lots of other evidence."
He said that it looks like the intruders had targeted the family and the home, as they only were interested in the safe, which contained a large sum of cash.
"It appears they knew what they were doing," Stauber said.
The lieutenant also said that families with a lot of cash should keep it in a bank and not their home to avoid being targeted, but did admit that he didn't think the family could have done much other than that to protect themselves.