A Birmingham man captured a burglary in progress on his smartphone and the picture he snapped turned out to be just the evidence police needed to crack the case.
Sam Modder thought he was just going to grab a late lunch at his house last week. Instead he became a witness to a burglary at his neighbor's home. What he did next guaranteed that the thieves wouldn't get away with the crime.
It's a simple photograph and a little grainy.
"The phone is relatively new and I was worried I would hit the wrong button and not get a photo at all," Modder said.
But considering the situation in which it was taken, it's the money shot.
"That photo, it really aided us in placing those suspects at the location taking the property," Birmingham Police Sgt. Johnny Williams said.
Modder lives on a quiet street in the Redmont neighborhood. So he was surprised when last week he caught a burglary in progress right behind his building.
"Two guys emerged from an apartment and one was carrying a TV and another was carrying a laptop," Modder said. "I asked them what they were doing and they looked up at me and they just kept on moving never really picked up the pace. At that point I realized what I was witnessing and I pulled my phone out of the holster and took a picture of them."
By the time police arrived the guys had gotten away. But Modder's interruption kept them from getting more of his neighbor's belongings.
"When I got here they were already gone and my entire front door had been kicked in," burglary victim Dr. Todd Falls said. "They had loaded the living room with all the electronics and got about half of them out before my upstairs neighbor Sam was able to stop them."
And that picture held several clues that police would need to catch 27-year-old Dewayne Little and charge him with the burglary.
"The picture clearly showed the license tag on it and it was clearly readable as well as a front face shot of one of the two men doing it," Falls said.
Police say the vehicle used in the burgarly is a rental car. Police believe Little is the main person involved but they haven't yet apprehended the second man in the picture.
Police add that they love getting help from the public but want to remind citizens not to put themselves in harm's way trying to collect evidence.
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