Police say they’ve identified a suspect in connection to a pricey Snohomish electronics theft after recovering a stolen drone that contained a memory card of pictures and video of the suspect himself flying the stolen drone.
Police say Benjamin Ojos Fitzgerald is now wanted for possession of stolen property and trafficking in stolen property.
"It felt like the rug had been swept out from under us on that day,” said DieHard RC owner Brenda Wilson.
Wilson said more than a dozen drones were among the electronics stolen, including remote control cars, from a trailer that she said had been locked and parked behind a church on Bickford Avenue where DieHard RC hosts indoor races.
She said the loss totaled more than $30,000 and shared surveillance video that she said showed a van that drove to and from the back of the church several times that Sunday morning.
Wilson said she was contacted by an anonymous tipster who saw KIRO 7’s February report. She said that person provided information to investigators about the van seen in the surveillance video from the church.
Snohomish police said investigators recovered about half of the stolen equipment, valued at about $14,000. Some of the stolen electronics were in plain sight inside the van, according to deputies, who returned the stolen electronics to DieHard RC.
Wilson said she took the drones to the manufacturer in Bothell. A repair specialist noticed one of the recovered drones still had a SD card and found about 9 GB of pictures and videos that included two people flying the stolen drone.
"They pulled out two of the SD cards but they must've forgot one,” said Wilson.
The drone video also captured a home where the suspects were flying plus license plate numbers of the vehicles parked on the property, according to Wilson. GPS data from the drone was handed over to detectives.
Snohomish detectives say the video led to a person of interest who they discovered had a van that matched the van seen in the surveillance video shared with KIRO 7 from the day of the theft.
Wilson said the companies and the community have since rallied to help her business that takes pride in its youth and veterans programs.
"Raised over $10,000, GoFundMe, for us to rebuild our programs,” said Wilson. "We'll rebuild our program stronger than ever.”
The suspect, Benjamin Fitzgerald, is known to frequent the Snohomish and Granite Falls area.
Investigators have not yet released the name of the second suspect wanted in connection to the theft.
Call 911 if you can help detectives locate Fitzgerald. Call 425-388-6274 with other information tied to the case.
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