Everyday Heroes: Catching an Arson Criminal

everydayheroesMike Spinney (Twitter @spinzo) from SixWeight.com sent us in a fantastic story about how he once helped catch a criminal accused of arson. Do you have stories where you played the hero and helped catch a crook? We’d love to hear them and publish them on the BrickHouse Security blog, so send them in!

Years ago I used to work for a security company in Portland, Maine (third shift mostly in the central station).  Our location included a back parking lot monitored by a beam-type motion detector and two cameras, including one with a remote tilt/pan control.  Working the third shift we’d see all kinds of shenanigans, mostly harmless, owing to the hidden nature of our lot.

One night the motion detector went off and we panned over to see a pedestrian.  Not unusual, and given that it was a quiet night, we panned along with him to see make sure he had no intention of making mischief.  He wandered into the next lot and stopped to pick something up, then seemed to loiter near a car.  Before long we could see something bright in the car and we could tell it was on fire.

arson-fire-2We contacted both the fire department and police department (we had direct lines to both) but by the time they arrived the car was fully involved, though no other vehicles were damaged in the blaze.  A police officer came in to the C/S to take our statements and asked the three of us on shift if we thought we’d be able to idenify the perpetrator.  I said I thought I might and so the officer asked me to come with him.  Outside, he instructed me to walk down the street and if I saw anyone I recognized as the perp, to give him the high sign.  He’d be on the street in his cruiser.

I walked a short distance and passed a man on the corner observing the commotion and turned back to the officer, motioning that this was the guy I saw in the camera.  The squad car screeched down and they put the man in the back.  Not long thereafter I related my account of the night’s events to a grand jury and later learned that the guy pleaded guilty to that act of arson as well a number of other cases in the city.  I was awarded a citizen’s commendation by the Portland Police Department for helping them put the collar on a guy who had caused a few headaches around town.

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