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Investigators are looking for a man who may be part of a “ring of thieves” targeting small businesses in the Houston area.

Click 2 Houston reports, surveillance cameras at a Pool Supply store captured images of the suspect entering the store and helping load a nearly $3,000 pool heater into a truck.

According to store owner Jeff Harper, there was nothing unusual about the transaction at first.

“We accepted the credit card, the customer paid for the heater and came and picked up the next day, it was gone,” Harper said.=auto” width=”640″ height=”395″ frameborder=”0″ webkitallowfullscreen=”” mozallowfullscreen=”” allowfullscreen=””]


The man reportedly called himself Christopher, and said he was calling from Austin, and needed the heater “for a job.” He said he would call around to check on pricing and call back.

When he did, Harper checked his phone number, address and email, to be sure he was legitimate.

But two weeks after the sale, American Express informed Harper the credit card used to buy the heater had been stolen from someone in Michigan.

According to police this incident is connected to a large ring of thieves and Harper is not the only victim.

“It takes a lot of effort for me and my dad to even buy that heater to be able to sell to someone,” Harper’s son, Dylan, said. “For someone to just come in and just take it and then there’s no recourse. We don’t have that money in our account.”

Click 2 reports, the bumper on the white van that hauled away the heater had been stolen from a junkyard to disguise the getaway vehicle.

To contact the Harris County Sheriff’s Office with information about this case, call 713-221-6000.

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