Arson suspect at HEB caught on camera

July 7, 2011 11:48:40 AM PDT
A fire inside a local HEB is believed to be the work of an arsonist who also doubled as a thief. The person was caught on camera and now investigators are asking for help to find him.

Deputies are trying to find him after the fire that was set in an HEB off Louetta and Highway 249 last month. Now we're getting a look at the surveillance video and investigators are hoping someone recognizes the alleged arson or his getaway car.

Investigators say they are looking for the man who got out of a black Dodge Nitro driving up to the HEB and who's could be seen pushing a shopping cart. They say he set a fire in the store back on June 14.

Shoppers who approached us say what happened inside the store is disturbing.

"More and more stuff seems to be happening on this side of town over here," said Stephanie Wynkoop.

Arson investigators tell us the man put some items in the cart and asked two employees where boxes of matches were located. They say the man then went to the toy aisle in the store and set a huge fire.

"He used the basketball nets and he set the box of matches on fire with the nets. The aisle directly behind it was where the motor oils and other flammables," said Harris Co. Fire Marshal Investigator Scott Schoonover.

Some workers rushed to put out the fire.

"The shelving caught fire and the employees were able to extinguish the fire quickly, but with the dry chem extinguisher they used, it caused a lot of dust that got on the other product, which in turn was damaged product that they had to dispose of because of the fire," said Schoonover.

But investigators sat they believe the man set the fire to distract employees so he could walk out of the store without paying for groceries.

"You have to be a very hungry person to go that far to do something like that, and that's kind of sad. But still, you can't endanger other people's lives," said Wynkoop.

The suspect is described as an African-American man, about 6 feet tall, and between 18 and 25 years old. Investigators say he was with an unknown driver and a woman.

A spokeswoman from HEB told us the arsonist caused about $13,000 in damage. Anyone with information is being asked to call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

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