OGDEN — Smile … you’re on criminal camera.
Two women, who had just taken a dip Tuesday morning in the hot pots at the mouth of Ogden Canyon off 12th Street, were stunned around 11 a.m. to see a man rummaging through their car and then fleeing with their belongings.
That’s when the theft became a Kodak moment.
The women, one of whom is from Salt Lake City and the other from Liverpool, England, used a camera to snap photographs of the burglar as he ran away, said Weber County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ryon Hadley. The names of the women were not released.
They continued taking pictures of the man as he fled across a road, went under a bridge, waded into the Ogden River, and began discarding their stolen items, which included credit cards, wallet, a purse and cell phones, Hadley said.
Another woman, from Australia, who witnessed the incident unfolding, called 911. Weber County Sheriff’s deputies eventually cornered the man about 100 yards west of the hot pots in the river near Rainbow Gardens, said Hadley.
The man was identified as Pete Gregory Garcia, 46, said Hadley. He has been charged with vehicle burglary, theft and criminal mischief.
Hadley said he wouldn’t advise crime victims to follow and take pictures of perpetrators, but added the photographs taken by the women will be used as evidence by detectives.
“Police don’t suggest people getting involved in dangerous situations” he said. “They can observe and call 911. But in this case it worked out well in that we have evidence against the individual for the crimes he was alleged to have committed.”
There is an ongoing problem with vehicle burglaries at trail heads and remote areas in Weber County, said Hadley.
People often put their valuables under their car seat or in the trunk, which may not be enough to protect them from thieves, he said.
“Having items out of sight helps, but doesn’t protect them or deter burglars,” he said. “People should either not take their valuables with them at all or carry what is necessary when they hike, bike or other participate activities.”