Community bands together to find thieves

November 9, 2011 8:15:03 PM PST
After a burglary, residents near Jersey Village are banding together to catch the criminals. And they've got a key piece of video to help them.

We spend time in a lot of neighborhoods and the teamwork it took to get the video you're about to see is unique considering many people don't even speak to their neighbors. Those who live here in Willowbridge says it's what makes them a strong community.

With his back door window now in pieces, Luis Espinosa is looking for a good window repairman, courtesy of two burglars Tuesday morning.

"They probably had a bar and broke all of this," Espinosa said.

He is the latest victim of crime in the Willowbridge community near Jersey Village, but what the burglars probably didn't bank on was that Espinosa's neighbors are fed up.

"They're tired of people breaking into their houses," said Julie Dubros, the neighborhood security coordinator.

And they're always watching.

"Criminals should be careful if they come over here," neighbor Lee Ray said.

So when a neighbor spotted a suspicious vehicle in Espinosa's driveway, he phoned Ray, a professional still photographer who just happened to have a video camera nearby.

"We just happened to hear it go by. I quickly just followed it, tried to get the tag," Ray said.

And what he got was a clear recording of their car, and when he froze a frame, there's a good shot of the suspected burglars. He gave it to the sheriff's deputy who responded.

"They were surprised, they were really shocked I had something available that quickly," Ray said.

And Dubros e-mailed a link and pictures to the whole neighborhood.

"To let the neighbors know so they can be aware, so they know how to protect themselves," Dubros said.

The ultimate goal, of course, is an arrest.

"I want them caught," Ray said.

It hasn't happened yet and Espinosa's laptops, jewelry and cash are still gone, but he does have a renewed sense of community.

"They did a good job, so I am very grateful," he said.

Epinosa's 20-year-old son was home during the break-in. He ran up stairs and hid until the crooks left.

The paper license plate seen in the video hasn't given detectives any leads so far. If you know anything, call your local police department.

Dubros says this reinforces what she been preaching -- know your neighbors and their cars so it's easy to spot those who don't belong.

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