Crime - Sacto 911

Sacramento crime-fighting camera detects stolen car

A “police observation device” in Sacramento can detect cars that have been reported stolen.
A “police observation device” in Sacramento can detect cars that have been reported stolen. Sacramento Police Department

A stolen car detected with a Sacramento police crime-fighting camera led Thursday to a pursuit and arrest of a suspected car thief in Meadowview.

Officers checked the neighborhood near Meadowview Road and Detroit Boulevard around 8:30 p.m. when a police observation device, or POD, showed that a stolen vehicle was being driven in the area. The device creates a video recording.

Officers saw the stolen minivan. When the driver accelerated, the pursuit was on. The Sacramento police helicopter aided in the chase.

The minivan driver turned north onto Center Parkway toward Mack Road and, soon after, punctured the vehicle’s tires when he drove onto a spike strip that an officer had stretched across the road.

The driver, 23-year-old Michael Sitani, surrendered, police said. He was booked into Sacramento County jail on suspicion of evading police, auto theft and various probation violations.

The technology that led to his arrest has been used by other police departments, including in Chicago and Rancho Cordova.

PODs, which can alert officers to crime while they are occurring, were introduced in Sacramento in September.

In one recent episode, officers were patrolling in a POD area when they received a stolen vehicle alert and stopped the driver within minutes, police said. The car had been stolen, and the driver was suspected of being drunk, police said.

Earlier this month, Sacramento police said they plan to add four more PODs to the 16 already in operation.

The devices will be equipped to read license plates and display the police shield logo and a flashing blue light.

Bill Lindelof: 916-321-1079, @Lindelofnews