FORT WORTH — A sandwich shop burglar convicted of breaking into almost three dozen restaurants will now have his meals in prison.A Tarrant County jury needed just 15 minutes Tuesday to convict Rodney James Ricketts, 36, of Pasadena of theft between $20,000 and $100,000, then sentenced him to 49 years in prison.Authorities called Ricketts a professional safecracker and serial burglar who broke into more than 30 restaurants in 2011, mostly Subway sandwich shops in four North Texas counties.During testimony before Judge Mike Thomas in Criminal District Court No. 4, prosecutors presented evidence that the businesses lost more than $76,000.“This conviction and sentence is an excellent example of what can be accomplished through law enforcement communication and cooperation,” Tarrant County Deputy Chief District Attorney Bob Gill said in a news release. “We were able to combine a large number of offenses into one prosecution that put a professional burglar out of business for a significant amount of time.”Bedford police finally caught up with Ricketts in October 2011 when they responded to an alarm at a Subway in the 2700 block of Tibbets Drive. One of the first officers on the scene reported that he could see a light in the closed business and could hear what he believed was a drill, according to police reports.Within minutes, Ricketts walked out with a bag containing burglary tools, police said.Ricketts hit restaurants in 19 North Texas cities from January to October 2011: Bedford, Colleyville, Grapevine, Denton, Addison, Arlington, Irving, Coppell, Plano, Dallas, Farmers Branch, Flower Mound, Hurst, Irving, Keller, McKinney, Allen, Carrollton and Richardson.Investigators determined that Ricketts broke into Subways and other fast-food restaurants late at night or early in the morning. Once inside, he headed straight to the safes.After his arrest, authorities searched Ricketts’ car, his ex-girlfriend’s home and a storage facility, recovering hard drives, laptops, bank bags, surveillance systems and deposit receipts from the businesses.In the punishment phase of the trial, jurors heard that Ricketts had burglarized at least 20 restaurants and businesses in North Carolina and was sentenced to prison.After his release, Ricketts moved to Houston, where he had felony convictions for drugs and burglary in Harris and Fort Bend counties. This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.
Domingo Ramirez Jr., 817-390-7763 Twitter: @mingoramirezjr