Tape system catches thieves on film who believed they took the camera

May 17, 2006
Santa Paula News
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesWhen a Santa Paula resident realized that filing insurance claims on thefts cost him more in the long run, he decided to take matters in his own hands. And now Mike Odle has videotape of two thieves that thought they were pulling a fast one by stealing a surveillance camera, but they didn’t realize that Odle had others running outside his home, located on a private road.Over the past several years, Odle has had thefts from his property, motorhome and vehicle that total about $13,500. About a year ago, Odle installed a $12,000 security system after a theft insurance claim “had cost me over a four-year period more (in higher premium payments) than the $8,000” loss. “So, I decided I wouldn’t turn them in any more, they’re not worth it.” Odle also installed a mega-motion detector system that “lights up the whole front yard like daylight.”The motion detector system didn’t deter two men who entered Odle’s yard Saturday morning at 5:15 a.m. The men came up to the Odle home, looked in the windows, and then concentrated on the truck.One spied the camera and they disappeared, but a few minutes later returned with “their shirts over their heads but their faces still exposed,” said Odle. “One jumped onto the bed of my truck” and attempted to pry open the small rear window, while the other man “grabbed the camera” and skulked away.“You feel violated,” Odle said, the common feeling among burglary victims. “First of all, we live on a private drive and on private property and they act like they own it.”Both suspects - one had a goatee - were wearing gloves, which showed they “knowingly were doing what they were doing. They ripped the camera off the house and walked away as if nothing happened. They couldn’t get into the truck... they were looking for an easy hit I guess.”
Odle’s home wasn’t the only area hit. A nearby neighbor lost a camera from their unlocked vehicle.Odle turned over the 10 minutes of surveillance videotape and photos of the thieves to the Santa Paula Police Department. Although Odle said that the incident would rank “petty, but expensive” on the crime meter, knowing that the SPPD is understaffed is frustrating.“They really don’t have time to follow up... this is why we need more financial influence in the community,” to provide more officers for the SPPD. “We deserve more officers... the investigating officer commented that the whole neighborhood had been hit heavily,” including a resident whose large mailbox was taken.Odle said that others should consider installing a video camera surveillance system. His own system covers portions of his neighbors’ property as well. “If more people did this in Santa Paula, watched out for each other,” it would be easier to catch the bad guys and deter their criminal actions.

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