Day care theft suspects linked to Florida crime ring

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Three people arrested after fleeing from police last week were part of an organized crime ring based out of Florida that has been targeting Austin over the last few months, court documents said.

Police say 26-year-old Johntavias Keon Brown, Taneisha Story, 27, and Tabatha Emerich, 31, were responsible for breaking into several vehicles on Aug. 13 at four separate day cares and stealing purses from inside the cars. Using the stolen checks and driver licenses, they would then try to cash the checks at local banks.

Police were able to use surveillance video from a day care on Brodie Lane to get a description of the car and later spotted the vehicle at a Super 8 motel. Detectives followed the car on Aug. 14 to a bank and later to a Food Mart at 2300 E. Ben White Blvd., where they attempted to stop the car. Story, who was behind the wheel, rammed her car into the officers’ and drove off, police said. Story and Emerich were arrested when the car crashed into an SUV a few blocks away.  Brown was taken into custody a few minutes later when police found him trying to hide in a nearby parking lot.

Emerich told police she had been recruited into the gang to cash the forged checks. Story’s job, according to Emerich, was to make Emerich look as much like the woman on the ID card by utilizing wigs. Brown would sit in the back seat with a timer and instruct Emerich to drive away from the bank if it was taking too long, she told police.

Emerich also led police to a North Austin location where they found a bag containing stolen checks and ID’s from eight other victims.

Jail records showed all three were in custody in the Travis County Jail on Monday. Story was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, engaging in organized criminal activity and three counts of forgery of a financial instrument. Total bail was set at $400,000.

Police charged Brown with engaging in organized criminal activity and two counts of forgery of a financial instrument, and is being held on a federal detainer. His bond was set at $300,000.

Emerich was charged with engaging in organized criminal activity and two counts of forgery of a financial instrument and bail was set at $100,000.

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