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NOPD arrest alleged Audubon Zoo car thief

On February 6, 2014

By watching police surveillance video footage of himself, a New Orleans car thief got away with stealing 12 cars for almost three years before police were able to arrest him.
According to the arrest record, Sergio Santos, a 58-year-old man, was initially arrested in the 700 block of Saint Charles Ave. on Jan. 10 for credit card fraud. Santos' victim was notified by the bank of the suspicious activity while jogging through Audubon Park.
The New Orleans Police Department had been searching for him for the past three years for stealing cars around the Audubon Zoo area. He had been leaving town every time he saw himself on police footage, which is open to the public.
Vincenzo Sainato, assistant professor of criminology at Loyola, wants people to know that police aren't perfect.
"There's roughly one million people in New Orleans, and as much as people would like to think so, police can't keep track of all the bad guys," Sainato said.
The police traced where the card was being used and found footage of Santos, who had been identified by the tattoo on his face.
"Criminals are most often caught through a run in with the police for a small or minor offense, such as a traffic violation, or in this case credit card fraudulence. It is then that police find their history and any warrants," Sainato said.
Sainato said once a criminal is known and identified, police will distribute pictures or video footage of the person to local parishes. By leaving, Santos was not in the jurisdiction of these police units and successfully avoided them.
Lieutenant Angela Honora, a crime prevention and logistics coordinator at Loyola, said crimes, such as auto thefts, happen often in New Orleans and even around Loyola's campus.
"Decide not to be a victim," Honora said.
She advises students to take certain precautions when they encounter suspicious activity on or around campus.
"The student should make sure he or she gets to a safe location, then call 911 and advise the police what he or she just saw occur with the location, time, and a description of what the suspect was wearing and if they saw any form of a weapon," Honora said.
Asia Alvarado can be reached at 

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