Associated Press, Published May 23 2012
VIDEO: Wis. theft victim uploads video of suspected thiefMILWAUKEE — A Wisconsin man whose camcorder was briefly stolen has found a way to get back at the suspected thief: He uploaded a video to YouTube that the suspect took with the camera, a clip in which the man reveals his name, shows his face and admits he stole the camera.
Chris Rochester, 25, of La Crosse, said his camera was stolen a few weeks ago from the car of his boss, Republican state Senate candidate Bill Feehan. Police eventually recovered the camera and returned it to Rochester, who set it aside.
Then, when Gov. Scott Walker made a recent visit to La Crosse, Rochester used the camera to film the event. When he went back to retrieve the video, he found 20 other segments the suspect apparently recorded.
Most were uneventful, generally 15- to 20-second clips of television screens. But one video caught Rochester's eye.
“This is my house, yes, and a stolen camera that I stole. But it's OK, the cop won't figure it out,” the suspect says in the 79-second video, as he pans around a home and points out the kitchen and bathroom. Later he adds, “Oh yeah, to introduce you, my name is Houaka Yang. So yeah, how do you do.”
Finally, he turns the camera to reveal his face and says with a smile, “And this is me. Hi.”
The 20-year-old Yang is scheduled to make an initial appearance Wednesday on two charges of being party to the crime of misdemeanor theft and one misdemeanor count of carrying a concealed weapon. The charges carry a maximum penalty of two years and three months in jail and a $30,000 fine. Online court records didn't immediately list a defense attorney.
Rochester said he almost disregarded the videos on his camera, thinking maybe he'd accidentally hit the ‘record’ button.
“Then it hit me pretty quickly as to what it was,” he said. “I was astounded. I was like, ‘Wow, I can't believe this.’”
Yang was already in custody, but Rochester decided to have fun with the video by sharing it with friends. So he uploaded it to YouTube under the title “Confessions of a stupid criminal: Thief is sure he won't get caught.”
As reporters began asking him about the video he realized it was more entertaining than he first thought, he said.
Police recovered the videocamera after investigating a number of thefts reported in the area. Rochester said he didn't think Feehan was targeted because he's a Republican political candidate.
Security videos at Feehan's home showed two suspects rifling through the car in his driveway. Investigators showed the footage to officials at a local high school, who identified one suspect, La Crosse police Sgt. Randy Rank said. The 14-year-old in turn identified Yang, he said.
Rank said police weren't concerned that Rochester uploaded the video while Yang's case is still pending.
“It's his recorder, those are his images on there,” Rank said. “I don't see an issue with it.”