WESTERLY — A newly installed security camera system that had been turned on for the season just two days earlier helped police identify a local man accused of stealing eight rolls of wooden snow fencing from a secure area beneath the pavilion at Westerly Town Beach.
Westerly Police Chief Shawn Lacey said the camera system, activated on April 26, captured images of the man, who had entered the parking lot with his truck. The man, Arthur A. Piaskowy, 67, of 141 Atlantic Ave., was seen loading the fencing onto his truck over a five-minute period, the police said. A patrol officer spotted his vehicle parked near the Sandcastle Inn on Atlantic Avenue this week.
"If not for these cameras," Lacey said Thursday, the suspect "would never have been found and the fencing would likely have been lost forever. This is just another example of how cameras really can be an important tool in law enforcement."
According to a police report, the town staff reported the theft on May 3 and turned over the video. It showed Piaskowy entering the lot at 3:50 a.m. on April 28 and loading the fence rolls, which were stored underneath the pavilion in a secure area. He was charged Wednesday afternoon with larceny under $1,500. He returned the fencing when questioned and was released on a promise to appear for arraignment in Fourth Division District Court later this month.
Lacey said officers could not get a license plate number, but were able to enhance the video to produce a far more detailed description of the truck. On Wednesday, a patrol officer saw the truck parked on Atlantic Avenue and spoke with Piaskowy. The police said he admitted taking the fencing and offered to return it.
The fencing, valued at $640, is now back in the town's possession and was not damaged, Lacey said. He encouraged residents and business owners to consider adding themselves to the town's camera registry if they have surveillance available.
The registry, which includes only a list of registered cameras and their location, is private and accessible only by sworn officers in the department. The information, including images, is voluntary and will remain secure and confidential.
"This program has only proven to be a win-win for both police and the community," Lacey said.