Home surveillance key in apprehending burglar on the run in Martin Co.

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Video evidence has long served detectives in cracking cases. Still, access to this valuable tool hit a snag earlier this year when one of the leading home security systems changed its policy to no longer allow for police video requests. Now, it’s up to the community to step up and volunteer footage.

We see the difference firsthand when a suspected burglar flees the scene after he’s caught red-handed.

Imagine walking into your house and seeing a strange man rummaging through your stuff, then he bolts out the door. That’s exactly what deputies say happened Tuesday night in the Little Club neighborhood in Tequesta.

Deputies say if it wasn’t for an overwhelming number of nearby residents volunteering their home surveillance footage, they may have never found this man.

“This is one of those nightmare cases where a homeowner is getting home, a woman by herself, and found a rather large male in her house going through her jewelry. And she confronted him she yelled at him and fortunately for all of us and for her, he left on foot,” Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said.

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The Martin County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) released one of the many home surveillance snapshots that led deputies directly to their suspect on the run.

According to MCSO, 52-year-old Dana Tuomi was in the middle of robbing a house when the homeowner walked through the door.

“This was a guy who was a career offender. He was on federal probation for bank robbery. He has a past criminal arrest for aggravated assault, aggravated battery, and resisting arrest. It’s not the kind of guy going to come home and find in your house,” Snyder said.

Nearby neighbors immediately stepped in to help, handing over all their home surveillance videos.

In January, the popular home security company Ring changed its privacy features, making it so law enforcement can no longer mass request doorbell camera footage from users.

That doesn’t mean officers can’t still do things the old-fashioned way, by going house to house searching for cameras. But the clock is ticking.

“Take this case for instance, because we got onto the suspect so fast and because we figured out where he was, we recovered the victim’s to her car which he had taken so we might of had a car theft, we recovered medication that belonged to the victim,” Snyder said.

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Deputies are asking all Martin County residents to register their cameras online with the sheriff’s office, as part of the Connect Martin Crime Prevention Exterior Camera Registry.

MCSO wrote in a Facebook post, “This program allows any resident with exterior security cameras to voluntarily sign up using their home address. Should a crime occur in their community, detectives would know which homeowners would willingly view their security footage to see if any of the crime was captured on tape. That footage would voluntarily be provided to detectives.”

It only takes a few minutes, but they say it makes all the difference.

“In this particular case, we would never have found the camera that gave us the best shot because it was inside a house looking through a bedroom window,” Snyder said. “We would have missed that.”

For more information on how to register, click here.

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