HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - The Norfolk Sheriff's Office helped Virginia Beach Police identify a suspect in multiple liquor store thefts. The suspects were caught on surveillance cameras but police couldn't identify them.
The thefts happened throughout April. The two men first stole from an ABC Store on Providence Road April 2. Then, the suspects stole tequila from the ABC Store on Laskin Road three times in one week, April 15, 17 and 19. That same week, an employee from the Providence Road store reported the same men stealing from their store again. Finally, the men were reported stealing at a Food Lion at Regency Square April 22.
Virginia Beach Police sent photos of the suspects to the Security Threat Unit at the Norfolk Sheriff's Office because they are known for helping to identify suspects.
"We get photos from federal, state, local, law enforcement agencies daily," said Sgt. Steve Hoggard. He said the unit specializes in being able to identify suspects because they document everything inmates do at the jail. "We know what to listen for, what to look for and when we gather that intelligence we often hear about these inmates communicating about crimes they haven't even committed yet."
In the case of the two suspects, once the unit got the photos, they went straight to work. Sgt. Hoggard said he referred the photos over to Deputy Aaron Weeks because he didn't recognize any of the men.
"He knows faces, remembers faces, names, who associates with who," said Sgt. Hoggard, adding he brought Deputy Weeks on the team for that skillset. Deputy Weeks said he identified Claspis Cooper as one of the suspects right away.
"The way he was walking in the pictures - his stance. There's a picture of him pushing a cart and the way he pushed that cart is what way he pushed the laundry cart when he worked here," said Deputy Weeks.
That's because deputies build rapport and relationships with inmates while they are in the jail and it pays off.
"We know that we're being effective. We can do our part in helping get criminals off the street," said Sgt. Hoggard.
Cooper was arrested Monday. The second suspect is still on the loose. Anyone with information is asked to call the police.