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Surveillance Videos Lead Fairfield Police to 4 Suspects in One Week

FAIRFIELD -- Surveillance video has become as much a part of the crime-fighting toolkit as fingerprints, blood spatters, DNA and even eyewitness accounts.

While solving a case based solely on surveillance video from businesses or homeowners is rare, it can point detectives in the right direction when little else is available.

Over the span of a week, Fairfield police used footage from local businesses to arrest four suspects.

On Wednesday a car was stolen from a parking lot on Travis Boulevard. A community service officer taking the report noticed a nearby business with a surveillance camera.

The business owner played back the video and recognized the suspect, a probationer, who was then arrested for car theft.

Just the day before, John Scharff of Fairfield was arrested for a series of commercial burglaries in which he shot out the glass of businesses with a pellet gun. He was caught multiple times on video at the various businesses.

Further detective work and evidence at his home led to Scharff's arrest on five counts of burglary and a probation violation. They also found evidence that linked Scharff to two additional burglaries in West Sacramento, which are still being investigated.

That same day Emilio Varela and Briana Morales were booked for half a dozen crimes connected to identity theft. The pair apparently used stolen information to drain $5,000 from a victim’s bank account. They were caught on ATM videos and surveillance cameras at various businesses they defrauded.

Police were led to a hotel near Interstate 80. In the suspects' room and car there was enough evidence to arrest them for identity theft, burglary, possession of stolen property and burglary tools, credit card theft and conspiracy.

It's understandable that Fairfield police chose to hold a surveillance camera workshop for homeowners and businesses detailing the best cameras to use and where to set them up.

Like many other police agencies in the region, Fairfield police have a program where home and business owners can register their security cameras so they know exactly where to look if a crime occurs near a camera. That’s one way that citizens can help fight crime in their own neighborhoods.