When Pete Cain got the idea to roll back his security footage he wasn’t expecting to find anything.
His next door neighbor told him, her husband’s vehicle was riffled through and a small USB drive was stolen. When he took a look at his security footage he hoped to get a clear view of his neighbor’s car and possibly see the crime, but what he found was that he was almost a victim too.
“As I was fast forwarding through it, I was standing talking to my wife and she saw a flash so we backed up,” Cain said. “It was only 30 seconds worth of video, but you could clearly see him grab the door handles.”
Cain’s high definition camera is placed over his garage, facing his driveway and overlooks his family’s three vehicles. In the video, a person wearing a black hooded sweatshirt with his or her hood up is seen walking through Cain’s neighborhood street, into his driveway, and between the vehicles. At first, the video is dark but as the hooded person approaches, the person’s movement triggers a motion detected light that flashes on beside the camera. The person tries all three vehicle doors before casually walking away.
All this happened on Dec. 15 around 3:30 a.m. in the Meadow Ridge neighborhood in Anna. Cain said his family was lucky they didn’t have anything stolen, but that has not always been the case.
A few years ago, his wife had a box of chocolates stolen out of her vehicle.
“They took her chocolate covered cherries out and apparently didn’t like them because they threw them out in the yard next door when they went through their car,” he said.
Cain’s neighbor Kristi May described waking up on Dec. 16 and finding out about the crime.
“We just came outside in the morning and the car wasn’t locked, I guess we forgot to lock it the night before, and my son opened the door and said ‘Mom why is the glove box open and why is everything in the seat,’” May said. “And they had taken everything out of the glove box, everything out of the console, pulled everything out of the little area under the radio. Most of it was just scattered through the car, and the only thing that we can tell is missing was a USB drive.”
While the drive was only worth about $20, the photos on that drive are worth a lot more, she said. That’s what really upsets her — someone would take those memories that cannot be replaced.
The thief left a pair of Bluetooth headphones in the car and an internet power booster. Two items May said, she’s surprised were not stolen.
Like Cain, this is not her first time to have something stolen, previously she had a phone charger taken out of her glove box.
The thefts while small add up over the years.
“It made us really uneasy,” she said. “But, the fact that our neighbors have cameras on their houses and we know that they catch our driveway — the fact that they saw them on camera and we know it was teenagers, it kind of put us a little bit more at ease.”
May said she contacted the Anna Police Department and filed a report but has not heard back. Cain also handed over a copy of the video to a detective.
That same night, another homeowner in the NorthPointe Crossing neighborhood caught something on their security camera that is very similar to Cain’s video.
“I saw a lot of people post on our neighborhood website that they had their cars broken into that night,” Dustin Aquilina said. “So me and my wife sat down and we went through the cameras to see if we might have caught something, and that’s when we ran across him coming through people’s vehicles at 3:30 in the morning.”
Another person was seen going up to Aquilina’s vehicle and trying the door handle. The door on both his vehicles was locked and the person wasn’t able to get inside, he said. The time stamp on his video is around 4:30 a.m.
The person in his video looks slightly different from the person caught on Cain’s video. The NorthPointe Crossing person is wearing sunglasses and wearing a light colored hooded sweatshirt, and Aquilina believes the person looks like a man in his late 20s or early 30s.
Like Cain, Aquilina didn’t get anything taken, but his neighbors did.
Lory Peacock lives just down the street in NorthPointe and she had $20 in cash taken out of her husband’s vehicle.
Like the other neighbors this isn’t the first time Peacock’s been hit. In July, she had her car window smashed and had to pay for a new one.
Anna Police Lt. Jeff Caponera said these types of thefts are crimes of opportunity. Criminals will canvas a neighborhood trying every car door they come across looking for the one that’s unlocked and has easy pickings.
“I’ve been here since 2008, and I can tell you there’s only been a handful of times where people have actually broken into cars,” he said. “The rest of the time, over 98 percent of the time, those vehicles were left unlocked. Garage doors were left unlocked, and what people don’t understand is when they leave car doors unlocked or they leave garage doors open their leaving themselves open. They’re vulnerable to other crime.”
Criminals will take the code off a garage door remotes or even steal the remote, he said. Many people don’t notice those things are missing right away and the criminals can come back and get into someone’s house. Other things they make take are motor vehicle registration, or the information on someone’s vehicle insurance.
“We encourage people even if their car was rummaged through to let us know,” he said. “Don’t feel like it’s a burden to us because here’s the thing, they may have left something behind, may have dropped something from another car that we could get some fingerprints off of.”
Caponera advises people to always lock their vehicle’s doors and report any suspicious activity they see.
Anna Police are investigating the thefts but so far no arrests have been made. Anyone with information regarding the crimes is asked to contact Anna Police.