SONORA -- Two suspects who broke into a Sonora-area business were caught on hidden cameras and the footage quickly aided in their arrest.
Richard Babb, the owner of R and J Hobbies, is no stranger to gadgets. His hobby shop specializes in radio-controlled cars, planes and boats. Models at his store can cost north of $1,500.
It’s no wonder he responded to a phone alert by his camera security system early Saturday morning.
"They told me that there was somebody out in front of my store. So I instantly started looking at it," Babb told FOX40.
Babb was actually 30 miles away when he witnessed a possible break-in in progress and called the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office right away. His instincts were right.
"(The suspects) went around for a little bit," Babb said. "They drove the car around for a little bit. They also went around and picked up some rocks."
They used the rocks to break a front window and one of the suspects began rummaging through Babb’s inventory, picking out various items.
The whole time Babb was able to relay everything that was happening as deputies were dispatched.
"I'm telling them what was going on live as it's happening," he said. "I was giving them play-by-play, it was kind of nice."
Babb had one of his cameras strategically placed in the window overlooking a nearby parking lot. That camera provided crucial information that he was able to pass to sheriff’s deputies.
The two suspects loaded up a red Honda Accord and took off just as deputies arrived. A long car chase involving the CHP ended in a wreck and a foot pursuit before the suspects were caught.
Babb chuckles about it now but the thieves passed up the most expensive models and ignored a $2,000 Gibson guitar.
"On its side, it said Gibson across the front of the case. They stepped over that to steal a $300 car," Babb said.
Deputies recovered several thousand dollars in merchandise but his store was trashed in the robbery, causing around $5,000 in additional damage.
Still, he’s glad he installed the security system.
"I’m used to dealing with cameras and GPSs and everything like that," he said. "Technology is really far advanced, so why not?"