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Pool cleaner bandit strikes Keller, TX

Pool cleaner bandit strikes Keller, TX
Photo credit: Southlake Police Department
Pool cleaner bandit strikes Keller, TX
Photo credit: Southlake Police Department

A bizarre crime trend has emerged out of North Texas this summer: People are stealing automatic pool cleaners.

Fort Worth Police said that since May 31, there have been nearly 20 reports of pool cleaner thefts. Southlake Police have responded to at least eight pool cleaner thefts. Residents of the city of Keller have reported 13 thefts of pool cleaners.

Dave Lieber, who writes The Watchdog column for the Dallas Morning News was among those to lose a pool cleaner in the middle of the night. He wrote about it in his column. He said he was tipped off that someone had been in his backyard when he found an empty energy drink can that no one in his house would claim.

Then he found his pool cleaner. Someone had pulled it out of the pool, broken the power cord, and left it busted. Then he found another empty energy drink can.

The Watchdog says that one of his neighbors was hit twice. Their cleaner was stolen, then replaced, then the new one was stolen again a few nights later.

The Southlake Police Department have taken a lighthearted approach to the thefts on their Twitter page. They posted a picture of a policeman holding a pool cleaner a la “Lion King” style and the caption: “THEFT ALERT! You may be asking what Corporal Thomas is Simba-ing over here, and if you’re not a pool owner, you may not have a clue. But that, fair citizens, is a pool cleaner.”

The post goes on to say that specific brands of pool cleaner are being targeted. These have included: Polaris, Tristar, Pentair, and Dolphin.

According to Judy Miller, office manager for Klapprodt Pools in Keller, “It’s been baffling. It’s very easy. You just go in the yard, disconnect it from the pool and walk out with it. You don’t need to do much.”

In September, at least one of the thieves was apprehended.

Just a few days after the Southlake PD posted on Twitter, one of their officers found the thief during a traffic stop in the middle of the night. Officer Sewell pulled a man over for having an expired tag, and speaking with the visibly nervous driver, Kemp Clopton, happened to notice two wet Polaris pool cleaners on the backseat. Clopton told Officer Sewell that he was a pool repair man, but he kept changing his story. When he was searched, the officer noticed his pants and shoes were wet, but not his shirt. Kemp said he’d been hanging out in a wet field. Kemp’s car was searched, and officers found three more pool cleaners in the trunk, as well as recent pawn shop receipts.

Meanwhile, Keller police say they have a warrant out for a different man suspected of stealing pool cleaners.

The Watchdog says he probably likes energy drinks.

cleaners being stolen with a pretty good regularity in the area.

In Southlake alone, we’ve had EIGHT thefts of pool cleaners since May. We know these R2-D2 like things can get heavy when they’re full of water, but we strongly ask you to heft them out of the pool each night, out of the backyard, and lock them up in your garages, pool house, cabana, fort, whatever each night.

Lock your gates. Have an outdoor HD camera. Light up the night in your back yard. If you go out of town, tell the neighbors no one should be in your back yard. But whatever you do, lock up little Polaris tight (the machine, not the child).

What else? Maybe inscribe it with your name? Give it a name and inscribe it? Hide an Airtag or something in it (that’s how we located one). We’ve got to work together to think outside the box because these bad boys are expensive—they range from $700 to $2,000 EACH.

We’re constantly on neighborhood checks but we need your help to keep your gates, house, and pool cleaners secure. We have to deep end on each other to prevent theft. Lock up your stuff and be safe today in Southlake and beyond!

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