• 75°

Video helps police in second burglary arrest


NATCHEZ — A Natchez man faces a charge of burglary of a business after police said news reports and video evidence helped identify the suspect in a case of stolen power tools.

Natchez police said they arrested Tarrance Terrell Matthews, 46, Wednesday evening and charged him with burglary of a business.

Matthews is accused of taking several commercial-grade power tools from a business in downtown Natchez, said Natchez Police Chief Walter Armstrong.

The arrest was the second this week in which police officers said video cameras owned by private citizens and businesses had led to arrests in burglary cases.

Earlier this week, police arrested a Natchez woman after a homeowner was awakened by a video Ring Doorbell system when someone was on her front porch during the night and the victim observed video of the suspect taking items off the porch.

Police said they were able to identify the suspect from the video and arrested Heather Collins of Natchez on two counts of petit larceny.

In the case of the stolen power tools, Matthews was arrested after police said they had encountered Matthews on July 10 as he was pulling a large trashcan along a street in the area of Jefferson Street at North Union Street, Armstrong said.

Upon inspection, police said they discovered the garbage can contained several commercial-grade power tools, including air compressors, a band saw and a nail gun.

Matthews, Armstrong said, told the officers he had found the tools, and the officers confiscated the tools because they did not know to whom the tools belonged.

“They couldn’t charge him, because we had no way of knowing if it was stolen, or where it was stolen from,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong issued a press release, seeking the owner of the tools who came forward after seeing the news release in The Natchez Democrat on July 11, Armstrong said.

“The next step we had to do was see if we can see him (Matthews) taking the tools,” Armstrong said, adding police were able to find a business in the area that had set up a Project NOLA camera. “We were able to see them and that is how we were able to identify him.”

Also, Armstrong said, another nearby business also had private cameras trained on the business from which the tools were taken and had captured the suspect going in to the building not only in the first case.

Officers knew who the suspect was, Armstrong said, but finding him was a challenge and took a few days.

“On Monday morning this week in the bad storm,” said Sammy Atkins, owner of Andrews Tavern on Main Street who has video cameras trained on the building across the street from his tavern from which the tools were allegedly taken, “he (Matthews) and a friend broke into the Old Dimples building again and stole the exact same tools. This time getting away.”

Atkins said he had evidence of theft on his video system, which he has shared with police.

Armstrong said police officers are searching for the alleged accomplice.

“Well 24 hours later he (Matthews) came back and broke in again,” Atkins said. “This time doing major damage to windows and the old doors. He was finally apprehended Wednesday night. It is good to have him off the street.”

Atkins said he wanted to emphasize how important and beneficial it is for people and businesses to have video cameras to help fight crime.

It is a point with which Armstrong agrees and credits video cameras whether Project NOLA cameras or private cameras such as the Ring Doorbell system, with helping improve the city’s arrest rate in recent months.

“That case (the porch pirate case), and the tool case,” Armstrong said, “really drives the point home of the importance of cameras around Natchez. … These cameras are very valuable to the community, and they have contributed to a lot of arrests, solvability. It is good to have indisputable evidence to be able to tell a person, not only did you do it but here you are in this video committing a crime.”

Armstrong said he encourages residents and businesses to invest in private surveillance camera systems whether through Project NOLA or other systems.

Armstrong said anyone who received tools from Matthews should contact the police department immediately.

“If they notify us before we locate them we won’t charge them,” Armstrong said. “If we get to them first we will charge them.”

Armstrong said more charges against Matthews are likely.

Anyone interested in obtaining a Project NOLA camera system, which costs $150 or $285 and a $20 per month cloud storage fee, should contact him directly by calling the Natchez Police Department at 601-445-5565.