When a couple of thieves were caught on camera trying to steal a security camera from a Modesto law firm’s building, an employee thought it would be a good idea to post the video on the Internet.
He went to The Bee, which published the video on its website. Other area media outlets picked it up and, within days, one suspect was arrested, and the other identified.
Now, Tom Nelson is hoping lightning can strike twice.
For the second time in two weeks, the Law Offices of Mark S. Nelson in central Modesto was vandalized, and part of it was caught on tape.
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Vandals entered the office early Friday morning and stole a flat-panel television and a computer from one of the offices inside the building at 215 McHenry Ave.
By Friday afternoon, Nelson, the firm's legal assistant, was showing employees tape of the second burglary as members from a security company were wiring the office for more detectors.
“It’s just a coincidence,” Nelson said. “One of our attorneys said, ‘Man, are we being targeted?’”
That was in reference to the first burglary two weeks ago in which two suspects were caught on video stealing a surveillance camera. One of the suspects was caught clearly on tape taking a hammer to the camera.
He was identified as Jeffrey Baxter, 25, of Modesto. He’s still at-large and wanted for grand theft and a parole violation.
The other suspect was arrested within hours of the first incident. He was seen riding up on a bike, and then holding the garbage toter in place while Baxter stood on top of it to pry the camera off.
Christopher Doll, 30, of Modesto was taken into custody on a separate warrant. After the video came out and he was identified, he was re-arrested in jail.
Modesto police Sgt. Rick Armendariz said publication of surveillance video on the Web is an asset. He cautioned, though, that depending on the case, it’s not always beneficial, and can compromise the integrity of an investigation by possibly tainting a suspect lineup.
In the case of the law office, he said, “It was very beneficial because it created instant leads from citizens calling the Police Department, Crime Stoppers. The (quality) of the video helped out a lot.”