CAUGHT ON CAMERA: Smash-and-grab car break-in suspects caught on Tesla’s security camera

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FAIRFIELD, Calif. (KCRA/CNN) — Police have named a suspect in a smash-and-grab car break-in in California.

They give credit to the car’s built-in camera system that recorded the crime and helped lead police to at least one suspect.

Shattered glass dots the seat and floor of Steve Widick’s brand new Tesla, remnants of a break-in while he was picking up dinner.

“I was standing in line and I got the notification on my phone that sentry mode had been activated. And then right after that, I got the alarm had been activated so I left the line, came out looked, and the window was smashed and my laptop was gone,” he said.

That moment was captured on the Tesla’s built-in camera system.

“Apparently they did not know that they would be recorded if they broke into this car,” said Widick.

Nor did the pair realize they’d be caught on camera casing the car for more than two minutes.

The video was clear enough to capture the license plate on the SUV they were driving.

“I was surprised at how brazen they were in the middle of the day. Coming out and you know, doing this stuff,” said Widick.

It also clearly recorded each of their faces.

“We were able to put a video and still images out to other partners of ours,” said Lt. Jausiah Jacobsen with the Fairfield Police Department.

Jacobsen says those partners identified one of the men as 24-year-old Alvin Lovett from the Bay Area.

“He is the one that we have probable cause to arrest this time and then he also has warrants for his arrest from other jurisdictions in the area,” said Jacobsen. “And one of those has been mentioned to be a weapons charge. So we’d ask the public not to contact him if they do see him.”

Police say these smash-and-grabs aren’t uncommon, typically committed by people roaming the Interstate 80 corridor that get off on the off-ramps.

“They will look for vehicles of opportunity that have items in plain view. They’ll break the window to grab it and they’re gone,” said Jacobsen.

Now the work to track down this man and identify the other one seen smashing the window and grabbing the laptop, someone Widick thinks could also be identified through his fingerprints.

“I did see in the video that it looked like the guy put his hand on the edge of the door,” he said.

Police say in-car cameras, whether in a Tesla or as an add-on in any car, could be the difference in tracking down a suspect and your stuff.

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