Footage shows man carrying handgun as he cases vehicles in west St. Louis County

Missouri

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – The home security footage shared by the Manchester Police Department says it all: an armed man checking for unlocked vehicles in a neighborhood south of Manchester Road. The video clearly shows that he is carrying a handgun and is unafraid.

“We don’t know if it was actually taken from a vehicle or if he came to our area with it,” Manchester Police Sgt. Meredith Absolon said.

But she said that doesn’t matter. What matters, she said, is that residents take steps to protect themselves.

Like many departments, Manchester Police encourage residents to follow the “9:00 p.m. Routine” – a nightly reminder to lock vehicles, hide valuables, and take them with you if possible.

But so many drivers ignore the warnings, and the next day, come to find their car windows shattered. Belongings that were in plain sight, such as purses, wallets, or keys, were stolen. Earlier this week, thefts from cars were reported on a nearby street in Manchester. The doors were left unlocked.

Absolon said detectives with her department have been in contact with neighboring jurisdictions about car break-ins and the fact that some of the criminals are armed.

Weeks ago, FOX 2 reported on young men seen racing through Clayton in the overnight hours. In one instance, a home security system showed a man use his hand to cover a camera lens. At least one of his accomplices was seen carrying a firearm, as he moved from one driveway to the next.

Manchester resident Teresa Waters was alarmed to learn about the recent case involving an armed man on her street. She said, in general, people tend to take safety for granted.

“Until stuff like this starts happening,” she said. “It’s at a different level. Now we’re talking about violence, possibly, toward even people.”

That’s why police urge the public to never confront anyone seen on their property. The person could be armed, and he or she might not be alone.

Since the beginning of the year, Manchester Police have taken 11 “theft from auto” reports.

Many communities allow residents and businesses to register their security cameras with the police department. In the event of criminal activity in the vicinity, police can contact the camera owners to request permission to view footage. Absolon encourages residents in Manchester to take advantage of the program.

Waters said many residents on her street own cameras, and that they remain in close contact about safety issues.

“As neighbors, we all email with each other, and text with each other. A lot of us on this street have Ring cameras. We’ve had text exchanges with each other. Like, ‘Does anybody recognize this truck?'”

Security camera footage helped police in a major investigation in May, involving a double-homicide in University City and Brentwood. Businesses in University City shared their surveillance video of the suspects’ vehicle, which was eventually located in South Carolina. Days later, the suspects were arrested and charged.

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