ALEXANDRIA, Ind. – A young witness helped Alexandria police catch a thief.
Surveillance video from Casey’s General Store in the city shows a white SUV pull up to a parked car. Within seconds, the man gets out, steals valuables from inside the parked car and takes off.
“It looks like something he’s done several times before,’” said Brian Holtzleiter, detective with the Alexandria Police Department.
The footage doesn’t show the 7-year-old who was in the backseat and came face to face with the thief.
“It was a quick in and out, I think probably took her by surprise,” said Detective Holtzleiter.
Police figured out the thief hit another gas station just down the road, allegedly stealing purses, backpacks, an iPad, and even a high school student's expensive knee brace.
“It’s a big deal especially for a volleyball player who needs a $900 knee brace,” said Detective Holtzleiter.
Police believe Michael Wilmoth would park on the edge of the gas station parking lot and then watch and wait for an easy target. Investigators say Wilmoth would hit unlocked cars at the gas pumps or parked in front of gas stations.
“All and all you’re talking about 30 seconds or so from the time she goes inside until he’s got the items and he’s gone,” said Detective Holtzleiter.
In the case caught on camera, the 7-year-old girl watched as the stranger stole her mom’s wallet. Police say the girl told them exactly what the thief looked like.
“(She was) very composed and did a great job. Seems to be a rock star. She was able to pick the suspect out of a photo lineup the next day and positively ID him,” said Detective Holtzleiter.
Police arrested Wilmoth on theft charges. They tell CBS4 nearly all the stolen items were recovered and returned to their owners. The car Wilmoth was in was also allegedly reported stolen.
“Don’t leave your valuables, including your children in the car, above all lock your doors,” said Detective Holtzleiter.
A little girl turned into a big clue that helped police solve a case.
“I’m sure she was nervous. She had to be scared but she didn’t show it,” said Detective Holtzleiter.
Investigators believe Wilmoth is involved in other gas station thefts. Alexandria police are working with other surrounding agencies.