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Thermal Imagery Helps East Longmeadow Police Arrest Alleged Car Break-In Suspect

EAST LONGMEADOW, Mass. (WGGB) – Edwin Datil was wanted by both Longmeadow, and East Longmeadow police for a series of car break-ins, a total of 11 between both towns.

However, early Sunday morning, Datil’s streak would come to an end when police say witnesses saw him sitting in another car he’d broken into.

“We had a reported break in around 2am Sunday morning and they found a suspect vehicle in the area, and they found him in the woods” said Sgt. Denis Sheehan of the East Longmeadow Police Department.

Police chased the suspect into the wooded area near Prospect Street where he laid down and covered himself with grass near a log. He thought he was invisible to the naked eye, and he was.

Cops were unable to see him with just the aid of a flashlight.

It’s because of a Thermal Imagery device, police were able to catch the thief.

Thermal imaging devices sense the heat coming off of people and objects, and highlights them in white.

It can spot a person, or thing, from almost a mile away. It’s a feat not even night-vision goggles can accomplish. Those use small amounts of visible light to enhance something you can already see with the naked eye.

Sgt. Sheehan says they’ve only had the devices for 2 years. Not only used in these instances, they help find evidence and lost people. While it’s the second time they’ve had to use it.  He credits technology with helping to advance policing techniques. “It’s enormous. Without this unit we probably wouldn’t have apprehended this subject” Sgt. Sheehan added.

Cops were also able to retrieve the stolen property, which included GPS devices and iPods with the imager.

East Longmeadow police got their thermal imager through a federal grant. The device can cost up to $18,000.

Granby police, and fire departments in Ludlow and Easthampton also have the technology.

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