BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A suspected tire thief thought no one was watching under the cover of darkness.
But in reality, private video surveillance footage was recording his movements.
Buffalo police say they’ve made an arrest in the case of vehicle tire thefts in the Allentown-West Side area that occurred over the last few months.
“We were able to obtain video surveillance cameras from private residences that showed what he was doing,” said Joseph Gramaglia, chief of Buffalo police B-District.
Gramaglia says video footage really made the difference in leading police to the suspect, Hector Santiago, 19, of Buffalo.
“He would jack up the car and then leave the car on a couple of paving stones in order to get the jack out,” Gramaglia said.
Santiago is charged with grand larceny in connection with five separate incidents in which all four tires were taken from vehicles.
“Grand larceny is a $1,000 or more for this particular type of crime, and it doesn’t take much to have four tires and four rims get above the $1,000 mark,” Gramaglia added.
He says Santiago admitted to the five vehicle tire theft incidents that he’s been charged with, and to being the individual seen in the video security footage.
Police are still investigating whether he acted alone or with others.
“It’s possible that he was working in conjunction with others. You get four tires off a car, it certainly is a difficult venture to get those to their destination,” Gramaglia said.
At one point in the video you can see the suspect fall on the sidewalk as he hoists a tire over his shoulder.
“They’re heavy. So, yeah. He falls at one point trying to get two wheels out at the same time,” Gramaglia said.
Chief Gramaglia says the department always recommends that owners of homes and businesses have some type of security system in place.
Additionally, individuals can register with Buffalo SafeCam, which keeps track of private security cameras.
It’s a tool designed to assist the police department when crimes occur in a neighborhood where cameras are recording.
Gramaglia says the information is kept confidential, and that only police personnel have access to it.
“We can’t see through your camera. All it does is tell us that you have a camera. What type of system you have and what retention time your system is set up for,” he explained.
He says it provides detectives with another resource to help solve crimes.
“Whether you’re registered for SafeCam or not, our detectives are always going to canvass for video. We’re always looking at homes and businesses and what video is out there that can benefit us, and that’s how it worked out in this case.”