WHITEFISH BAY -- A 57-year-old Milwaukee man was taken into custody Sunday, April 14 for prowling in Whitefish Bay. The man has an extensive criminal history for theft and burglary dating back more than 30 years, according to police.
According to Whitefish Bay police, a resident on Lakeview Drive received an alert from his surveillance video on his cellphone. The resident observed a prowler on his property via video. The resident called 911.
Whitefish Bay Lt. Patrick Whitaker recognized the prowler caught on camera.
"He comes back all the time," Whitaker said.
When officers arrived on the scene, they located the prowler, 57-year-old Otha Smith, hiding in some bushes on Day Avenue. Smith was taken into custody without incident.
"He's been a career criminal. In Whitefish Bay alone, we've been dealing with him since 1997," Whitaker said.
After his arrest, investigators linked Smith to numerous other recent prowling incidents in Whitefish Bay based on other videos submitted by residents throughout the village, according to police,
As a result of this arrest, police contacted Smith's probation agent. The probation agent placed a hold and Smith was transported to the Milwaukee County Jail, where he was being held for possible revocation of his probation.
Investigators credited home surveillance cameras, like the Ring camera in this case, for helping solve this case. That is because homeowners can easily share them with police and prosecutors.
Lt. Whitaker said he was optimistic Smith's most recent trip to Whitefish Bay would be his last.
"We are working to get our parole revoked, because according to his parole, he's not supposed to be in Whitefish Bay," Whitaker said.
Police said Smith did not steal anything. He did not have the option because every car he tried was locked.
The Whitefish Police Department encourages all residents who observe suspicious persons or who have home surveillance systems that capture suspicious person to report those incidents by calling 911.
Whitefish Bay police issued the following statement on this case:
"These videos and quick notification of 911 are proving to be valuable tools in helping WFBPD deploy resources quickly and effectively to target the area where these criminals are actively trying to steal WFB residents property. As a reminder to all residents please make sure that you are removing keys from vehicles and are locking the doors to your vehicles as well as your homes. It is proven in all of the submitted videos that these subjects quickly move on if they pull on a car door handle and find it locked."