Sheriff: Cushing man used electricity pitch to steal

Robert Bell mugshot (Source: Nacogdoches County Jail)
Robert Bell mugshot (Source: Nacogdoches County Jail)

NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Deputies with the Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office have arrested a Cushing man who worked as an electricity salesman and stole from potential clients.

Sheriff Thomas Kerss said deputies arrested Robert Bell, 38, Friday afternoon at his residence in Rusk County.

Kerss said a victim reported that Bell came to her residence in Cushing as a salesman for Direct Energy. At some point, he asked to use the bathroom and eventually stole $500 she had withdrawn from the bank and had lying on a table.

Kerss said Bell was arrested on only one warrant for burglary, but would probably be charged with four more counts. And more could come as more victims come forward.

Kerss said Bell used tactics to get in different rooms from potential clients, like ask for a drink of water while he was in the residence.

Even though Bell was allowed in the residence, state laws say because he came in the house under false pretenses and committed a crime, he can be charged with second-degree burglary.

Kerss said investigators have been looking for Bell for a couple weeks, and finally found his vehicle at his address in Rusk County. They then contacted the Rusk County Sheriff's Office and made the arrest.

Kerss said complaints of Bell date back to the beginning of the year, but he is arrested for an offense within the past month.

According to Claire Monaghan, communications manager at Direct Energy, Bell was employed by a third-party vendor contracted by the company. Monaghan said one resident sent a complaint to the company in May about him coming to the home to use the bathroom and they thought he may have stolen something. Even though they could not prove he stole anything, Monaghan said the company contacted the vendor and had Bell terminated on the complaint alone.

"We have not been able to contact him since," Monaghan said. "But we are looking to help in any way we can. This is not something to be tolerated and we acted on it immediately."

Monaghan said it is required that vendors run background checks on all employees, and Bell had passed those all checks.

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