West University police announced Thursday (Dec. 3) that they are looking for a career criminal — who was already being tried for theft — in connection with 32 reports of identity theft from residents in a two-month span.
John Carl Sutterley, 65, is charged with fraudulent use or possession of identifying information, a first-degree felony, after West U filed against him with the Harris County D.A. in mid-November.
In a statement, West U police said he used the names, birthdates, and Social Security numbers of unwitting West University residents to open credit card accounts at Home Depot stores in Houston.
West U detectives investigated the 32 cases, reported between Sept. 2 and Nov. 17, with the assistance of the Home Depot fraud division, learning that Sutterley has a history of similar crimes dating back nearly four decades.
Most recently, he had been charged with similar fraud involving Lowe’s Home Improvement stores in September of 2018, took a plea bargain and served a reduced sentence in state prison in Huntsville for two months before being released in February. By April he was back in trouble, charged with equipment thefts from Lowe’s stores in Harris and Fort Bend counties.
According to West U police, his case is currently assigned to the 337th Harris County District Court. A condition of his bond bars him from Lowe’s stores, but authorities said he appears to have shifted his fraud to Home Depot, using West University residents’ identities.
According to records, his first felony sentence that took Sutterley to state prison came in 1983, and he’s had a variety of charges and convictions for felony theft and misdemeanor possession of controlled substances in the ensuing 37 years.
West University police used the case to point out the importance of staying vigilant during the holiday season. They urged residents to check their credit card statements often for suspicious activity and to clear their mailboxes daily to prevent the theft of personal information.
Anyone believing that they’ve become a victim of identity theft should contact West U police immediately at 713-668-0330, as well as their financial institution.