Video: Motion-sensor cameras help catch alleged construction site burglar ‘in the act’

MOLINE, Illinois -- Moline Police said they caught a burglar "in the act" at a construction site after motion-sensor cameras alerted the contractors.

On Tuesday night, November 7th, motion-sensor cameras picked up movement at the I-74 Bridge construction site where Phoenix Corporation had their equipment and tools set up.  According to Michelle DeCap with Phoenix Corp., when the cameras sense movement, multiple people in the company get alerts on their phones allowing them to see and hear what's going on.

"(During) this incident we heard him pop the bracket with the crowbar," DeCap said.  She said she called to notify the Moline police - who got there within minutes - and she was able to tell them what she was seeing and where to find the suspect.

Related: Moline police say construction site thefts on the rise 

In a video captured by the motion-sensor cameras, one person- identified as the suspect- can be seen standing in front of a trailer slightly off center on the screen. At about 10 seconds in, that person runs off, and can be seen running toward the bottom-left corner of the screen.  Immediately after, a person with a flashlight - identified as an officer - runs that same direction, followed by a second officer who runs from right to left in front of the screen.

"It was very surreal," DeCap said. "This is not a movie. This is happening real life... and to be honest it was a little nerve-racking because I could see the officer on the other side of the trailer and I didn't know what he was going to walk into."

Timothy Carter, image from Moline Police Department

Detective Michael Griffin with the Moline Police said 52-year-old Timothy Carter was arrested that night.  He was charged with burglary and was held in the Rock Island County Jail on $50,000 bond.  Griffin confirmed that he left damage at the construction site after breaking into one of the trailers.

Tuesday night was the third time Phoenix Corp.'s construction site had been targeted in just over two months, and DeCap said they aren't the only ones.

"Every single contractor down there has been hit at least once," she said. Most of the contractors working on the project have installed motion-sensor cameras to avoid losing their equipment.

"... this is such a hallmark project for this area and we're proud as a local small business to be apart of it," DeCap said. "And... to think (crews) go to work and they don't have the tools to do their job."

Detective Griffin said the police department has increased patrols around construction projects, aiming for times when they know burglars have targeted the sites.

DeCap said their motion-sensor cameras go off multiple times during the day, "and a lot of times it's Moline police walking or driving on the site... They don't just go there when we call them, they're proactively looking. They have a presence there and they are devoted."

That devotion prompted Phoenix Corp. to send a letter to the department thanking them for their help:

"You and your department have been dedicated to helping Phoenix and all contractors in the area put a stop to this.  We know first-hand how much time your officers spend patrolling the sites on foot and in their cars. In a time where people only take time to criticize, we want to tell the Moline Police Department, Thank You! You all are appreciated beyond words!"

Click here to read the full letter.

Surveillance video: