Fresno school's surveillance system helps catch burglary before he could escape

Friday, January 22, 2016
Burglar attempting to steal from Fresno school caught before he could escape
A man who tried to steal from a Fresno school quickly learned he had eyes on him.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A man who tried to steal from a Fresno school quickly learned he had eyes on him. The school district's security team worked with police to nab him and he was caught even before he stepped off the Tenaya Middle School campus.

Holes are left in the hallway at Tenaya Middle School after a thief tried to steal surveillance cameras overnight Thursday. "He was running out of the campus southbound, he tried to jump the fence there but we had a perimeter established and he ran back northbound and were able to catch him," said Lt. Joe Gomez, Fresno Police Department.

Lt. Gomez said officers were able to catch 49-year-old Douglas James of Bakersfield early Thursday morning. Inside his backpack officers found four surveillance cameras pried from the school, worth about $3,600. "It was recording at the time he was taking out the cameras and disassembling them," said Armand Chavez, FUSD Safety Manager.

Chavez oversees safety across the school district. He said Fresno Unified employees were watching it all unfold from the central monitoring station and called police. It's a 24/7 operation that helped out when the thief struck. "Recently we've upgraded all of our security cameras to high definition, which has helped out tremendously."

Last year the Fresno school board voted to spend $3.5 million on providing lighting and surveillance cameras at high school and middle schools across Fresno. Police said it's those measures that are helping catch crooks in the act. "They think they're not watched. They forget we are in a society where everybody's watched and they should think twice before they want to create a burglary at a school because they're very very well monitored. We catch just about all of them now," said Gomez.

Officials said the plan to replace the four security this weekend so they can continue to keep eyes on their campuses.