FBI investigates Tulsa burglary ring

Saturday, November 29, 2008 | 4:57 p.m. CST

TULSA, Okla. — A Tulsa-based burglary ring that might have stolen millions of dollars in cash and merchandise is under investigation by law enforcement agencies in several states.

Federal court documents indicate a highly-organized burglary ring has targeted banks, automated teller machines and businesses in Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri and Arkansas over the past several years.

Since December 2007, banks in Tulsa; Shell Knob; Fayetteville, Ark.; and Texarkana and Euless, Texas, have been burglarized by a group of people who forcibly enter the buildings, deactivate burglar alarm systems and spend “hours inside the banks cutting through vaults, walls and cash dispensers with power tools,” according to an FBI affidavit.

Surveillance videos from inside and outside the banks show people who appear similar in appearance, and evidence shows that the burglars used a common method to enter the banks.

A police affidavit connects the burglaries to three men: Matthew G. Moreland, 20, who lists both Mannford, Okla., and Tulsa as recent addresses; and Jerry Clyde Stephenson Jr., 39, and Victor Revilla Jr., 39, both of Tulsa.

About three years ago, the three men were arrested following an attempted burglary of an automated teller machine owned by the United Missouri Bank in Jefferson City, according to the affidavit.

Stephenson and Revilla were later convicted, and Moreland, who was a juvenile then, confessed to being a part of the attempted burglary.

The affidavit says that on Nov. 4, a confidential informant for the FBI was with Moreland, Stephenson and Revilla and at least two other men at a restaurant and heard Stephenson say he robbed banks.

A few days later, an FBI agent seized dozens of suspected stolen items from Moreland’s home, including clothing, furniture, firearms, computer software, cell phones and cash.

Among the banks that were burglarized was one in Tulsa last year. On Dec. 17, burglars broke a window to get in and then pried open an inside door and gained access to a safe that weighed “several thousand pounds,” according to an FBI affidavit. The safe was then pulled though a brick wall by a large vehicle.

Bank officials declined to comment on how much was stolen.

On March 13 of this year, burglars stole money from 55 safe deposit boxes in Shell Knob, according to the affidavit. Just before the burglary, a dark gray or black Dodge pickup containing two white men was seen parked near the bank. During this time, Stephenson was driving a dark gray Dodge pickup.

On Oct. 10, a video camera inside the Western Bank in Fayetteville, Ark., captured the images of three men entering the bank, where they stole approximately $68,000 from a vault along with many other items, including a rare $1,000 bill, from safe deposit boxes, according to the affidavit.

An outside video camera captured a picture of one burglar “who bears a striking resemblance” to Stephenson, papers indicate.

This summer, banks in Texarkana and Euless were burglarized, with the thieves stealing more than $300,000, according to the affidavit.

Various stores also have been targeted. On Oct. 29, burglars entered a store in Tulsa and removed the alarm system. They then stole assorted jewelry, clothing, hats and two custom-made motorcycles.

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