Deputies: Burglars caught on camera caught by the law

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BRADENTON - When two men walked out of Mary Malloy's Bradenton home last month with a bunch of her stuff, she never expected to see it again, and even after seeing the video from her home security cameras, she never really expected to see the thieves caught.

“I didn't have great confidence at the time,” she says.

The Manatee County Sheriff's Office says that, had the two burglars escaped the sight of the electronic eye, they may have escaped the law. “It would have been very difficult,” says Sheriff's spokesman Dave Bristow. “Because the video made this case.”

Surveillance cameras aren't new, but as they get better and cheaper, more people buy them, and more of their images can help identify anyone seen on them. The Sheriff's Office says that Jerry Bivins and Michael Jenkins, whom it describes as two career burglars, have had their occupation become more difficult because of cameras that showed clear images of the crime.    

In Boston, surveillance camera images, and photos from bystanders, helped police pick the bombing suspects out of the crowd. But in smaller cases, where police cannot raise the force for a massive manhunt, surveillance camera photos prove just as useful.

"We do have a website, 'Can You ID Me,'" Bristow says. On it, the sheriff's office posts photos of suspects people can browse. It included those in the Mary Malloy burglary. Bristow says it has become a popular destination on the sheriff's website. Ordinary people can help fight crime from the comfort of their computers. “They don't like to get involved when they're right there,” Bristow says. “But going on a website and getting involved, they like doing that.”

When Mary Malloy learned that her home in the Glenn Lakes subdivision came with a camera system, did not know why at the time, but has no questions now. “Because of what happened,” says says. “I'm probably going to enhance my home security even more.”

And, with the help of people like her, the long arm of the law extends with the long lens of a camera.