HOUSTON — More than 100 water districts in unincorporated areas of Harris County have been hit by thieves in recent months. Two recent thefts were caught by surveillance cameras.
The cost of replacing the equipment is passed on to tens of thousands of MUDD customers who depend on the districts for their water.
The latest incident happened just two weeks ago in the middle of the night. Cameras captured four men walking into the water facility and just tearing it a part.
“You create thousands of victims in a situation like this,” said Major George Rhyne, a supervisor for the Texas Department of Public Safety. He overseas its Criminal Investigation Divisions.
Texas DPS is working with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Harris County Precinct 4 Constable’s Office, and Tomball Police in an effort to catch these suspects, and others who are committing this serious crime.
What are the suspects after? On the surveillance video you can clearly see they are seeking metals, which includes copper wires. The metals are taken to scrap yard dealers in exchange for cash.
The copper theft two weeks ago cost the company running that particular facility nearly $90,000 to repair.
“It is clear and evident they have expertise that has assisted them to be able to commit these types of offenses in a minimum amount of time,” Major Rhyne said.
The men could be charged with a number of crimes if apprehended. Investigators said they usually drive stolen Ford or Chevy pickup trucks and seem willing to dump them and run if authorities show up at a scene. Detectives also said the men usually have someone watching out for anyone who might be coming by during the crime.
In the video released to Crime Stoppers and KHOU 11 News, the suspects entered the facility wearing bandanas, but after awhile the bandanas slipped off their faces. Detectives are hoping someone knows these men and can call Crime Stoppers with tips.
If you have any information you are urged to call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.