Burglars targeting tattoo parlors

October 14, 2011 3:17:14 AM PDT
We've shown you the stories and surveillance videos of thieves stealing tens of thousands of dollars worth of hair extensions. Now we're learning of another cosmetic industry that's being hit by burglars.

It's not the cash resigters or even the electronics that are being targeted. It's the pricey tattoo equipment. We've learned of several high-dollar bugarlies at Houston-area tattoo shops.

With a half a dozen artists now working for him, Rene Garcia, is living the American dream.

"I love the art," Garcia said. "Open up your own business and try to survive."

In January, he expanded Big City Tattoos to this space on the Gulf Freeway, and this past weekend, his dream was the source of disappointment.

"Having somebody take what you worked hard for, it bugs you, you know? It bugs you a lot," Garcia said.

The burglar broke in early Sunday morning. Once inside, surveillance cameras caught his every move. When he can't find the light switch, he grabs what's close and carries it out. This time, he grabbed a tool box full of $3,000 worth of tattoo machines and supplies.

"Needles, disposable tubes, two power supplies that look like this," Garcia said.

The break-in sounds very familiar to Cynthia Courtney. The shop she owned on the East Freeway with her mother and sister was hit in July. The loss was so great that their beloved business now has a for rent sign outside.

"If I had to add it up, $18,000 maybe, total," Courtney said.

They were forced to close.

"We had no other choice, we had nothing left," she said.

At least one other shop on Westheimer was burglarized this past weekend. A surveillance camera captured a car that looks a lot like the one seen during the Big City Tattoos burglary.

In all three burglaries, specialized tattoo equipment was stolen, leading Garcia to a conclusion.

"It has to be a tattoo artist," he said.

With the video, he hopes he's stopped.

"The tattoo game is really small in Houston and everybody know everyone in the tattoo game," Garcia said. "People are going to recognize his face."

The car appears to be a light-colored, four-door sedan. The suspect has tattoos on both arms as well as the back of his neck.

HPD says it's too early to tell whether all the break-ins are connected, but anyone with information is asked to contact the HPD Burglary and Theft Division at 713-308-0900.

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