A South Buffalo burglary suspect earlier this week fell victim to a surveillance camera, old-fashioned police work and a family member who says she is petrified of her crack-addicted brother, police said Thursday.
The thief drove to the Seneca Cazenovia Square senior citizens residence Sunday morning, loaded a gas grill and snowblower into the back of his pickup and took off, apparently thinking he had been undetected.
Ten minutes later, South District officers arrived at the center, in the 2100 block of Seneca Street, and called the surveillance camera room at Buffalo Police Headquarters to see whether the camera at Abbott Road and Lorraine Avenue had recorded images of a vehicle leaving the vicinity, Police Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson said in a news conference Thursday.
When camera room personnel found an image of a truck with the stolen items in the back passing through the nearby intersection of Abbott and Cazenovia Street, Gipson said, they supplied officers with the information.
The suspect's sister had complained to police about her brother, who she said was on a seven-day, crack-smoking binge.
And suspect Mark A. DelMonte was under arrest by about 7 a.m.
"I'm so grateful for those cameras. They should have more of them," said Karen A. DelMonte, who lives on Hayden Street with her 45-year-old brother, about a dozen blocks from where the camera recorded his vehicle. "He's finally hit his bottom after 25 years of smoking crack."
The camera technology, Gipson said, helped make the arrest happen a lot sooner than it would have.
"When I'm monitoring the police radio, I hear officers call the camera room all the time, asking if there are any images from a crime scene, and the camera room was able to pull up this image," the commissioner said.
But it was also DelMonte's violent behavior that led to the arrest, the sister said.
"He tried to break down my door and assault me. He had brass knuckles. I called the police. When the police came, he had taken off, and they asked what does he drive, and I told them, and they said they were looking for that vehicle from a burglary," Karen DelMonte said.
When police left her home, she said, he returned, and she again called 911, urging officers to "please hurry."
"He's was smoking crack all night. He was smoking it for the last seven days," Karen DelMonte said. ". . . I want to see a long-term incarceration or an in-house drug program where he won't come out for a while."
Her brother has already received numerous chances from the legal system to rehabilitate himself, she said, but he keeps slipping back into addiction.
"He was on welfare and spending the money on crack. He was trading food stamps for crack or money. It's a whole scam," the sister said, adding that she is due in City Court at 2 p.m. today to finalize an order of protection against her brother.
During the news conference, Mayor Byron W. Brown announced that more surveillance cameras are on the way.
"The city has 70 surveillance cameras, and we expect to have another 57 by the end of the year," Brown said.
Each camera costs about $45,000.
As more cameras are installed, Gipson explained, police will be able to take a bigger picture of the city.
"Seventy cameras might seem like a lot, but the city is 42 square miles," he said, "and as we build out the camera system, we'll get a more comprehensive picture."
Officers credited with the arrest included Lt. Patrick A. Roberts, Detective Mark J. Fitzpatrick and Officer Debra A. Hornberger. Also, Officers James T. Reese and Kevin M. Kennedy recovered the stolen property on Peabody Street.