HOUSTON -- A thief was caught on camera swiping a large piece of construction equipment, and Houston police say these types of crimes are becoming more and more common.

At the corner of South Gessner and Clarewood in southwest Houston, subcontractors have been working to widen the median and put in new ramps for sidewalks.

But when they showed up for the job on Tuesday, their main their main piece of equipment -- a $40,000 backhoe -- was gone.

The theft was caught by surveillance cameras at a convenience store on the corner. You can see a man walking down the sidewalk in the middle of the afternoon. He puts on a familiar safety vest, jumps onto the backhoe, and drives off heading east on Clarewood into a neighborhood.

Houston police s Auto Theft Division investigates construction equipment crimes and says thieves -- like anything else -- take what is in demand.

It can be done by order, said Houston police officer Jim Woods with the HPD Auto Theft Division, somebody who has actually placed an order for a piece of equipment. They are able to get it out of the country onto a container to be shipped overseas or drive it across the border where there is always a market.

And because we have a strong economy in Houston, there is always a demand here.

The thief took off with the backhoe on Monday at 2:42 p.m., but most people driving by probably figured because he was wearing a vest -- he was just doing his job.

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