Camera Catches Arsonist Red-Handed

Houston Fire Department investigators are still trying to catch a serial arsonist in southwest Houston, and right now they're pinning their hopes on some grainy security-cam footage.

Fire Marshall Richard Galvan tells Hair Balls the investigation is a high priority, but no motive has been established for what might be as many as 30 fires set in the last year and a half.

"I can't get into his head," he said. "All I know is that what he is doing is against the law and he is putting people's lives at risk."

The security camera footage from inside the garage of a southwest Houston home features a 5-foot-8-inch-tall, 180-190-pound (possibly white) male with a wobble. The video also shows the arsonist escaping in a truck that is a Chevrolet 3500 Dually.

The homeowners installed the camera to manage their theft problems, but captured the arsonist on camera instead. As the old saying goes, if you play with fire you will get burned.

Galvan said he is not sure whether the arsonist in the video is acting alone because it is possible someone could be driving the truck.

The gasoline-induced fires, typically started between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., have escalated from individual residences to larger residential complexes.

Galvan said the Houston Fire Department is conducting round-the-clock surveillance with eight investigators on the weekend shift and ten investigators on the evening shift.

Galvan said he feels confident about the future of the investigation because the suspect will eventually talk about his or her actions with close acquaintances.

"I hope that we are going to aggressively investigate [the case], aggressively go after him or her, and we're going to use all of the resources available to us to solve this case," Galvan said.

He requested the assistance of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms on Friday, May 27, for the future of the investigation.

Galvan also encourages the public to participate by offering any information to the fire department's Arson Bureau or to Texas Crime Stoppers.

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Jake Hong