Surveillance video catches camera crook in the act

Nearly 16 video surveillance cameras surround local Amarillo business Cowboy Gelato on 6th Street. However, those cameras didn't keep a few thieves from causing trouble. In fact, those cameras were the reason they were there.

General manager of Cowboy Gelato, Cody Anderson, had three of his first video surveillance cameras stolen back in July. This past Sunday, he had another run-in with a camera thief.

"Nothing but the cameras," said Anderson. "It looks like that was their sole purpose to do was to just come take the cameras."

After the first thieving incident, Anderson had his surveillance linked with his alarmed security system, so during the second attempt at stealing another camera, an alarm went off alerting the Amarillo Police Department.

"More often what we see when someone is damaging or vandalizing or stealing video cameras is because they're trying to get rid of that surveillance ability," explained Sgt. Brent Barbee with the Amarillo Police Department. "So, they can commit another crime at the place."

However, Anderson was told that one of the possible motives for stealing the cameras was for the suspects personal use.

"For them just to get our cameras like this," said Anderson. "It's kind of, they have noticed that some or more of the drug-related people or crime-related people are wanting to put them up as security for their own homes."

"We certainly know that drug dealers put cameras up on the front of their houses," added Sgt. Barbee. "But not just drug dealers, regular people use video surveillance in increasing numbers these days."

But, according to officials there could be any numbers of reasons for this kind of criminal activity from resale, to personal use, to preparation for another crime, even just vandalism. But even then, after ripping the cameras off the wall, Anderson said, they wouldn't be functional.

"The way they're taking them," he said. "They're breaking the camera because once the wires are disconnected the camera shorts out so it's not use to them."

Another confusing piece to the puzzle that Sgt. Barbee said we may never understand.

"Who can really guess the motive of these people?" he questioned. "Because not everything that someone does especially a criminal makes sense to you or I."

There was some light at the end of the tunnel for Anderson and APD, though. Nothing besides the camera was stolen from Cowboy Gelato, and although the suspect made off with the camera, he left the most important thing -- the video evidence.

"Video surveillance is great," said Sgt. Barbee. "It gives us evidence where many times before we would not have any evidence."

"To the wonderful brainiac that pulled the last stunt," added Anderson. "Smile. You're on candid camera and APD is going to be on your trail soon enough."