TOWN OF MENASHA - Caught in the act. Three boys ranging in age from 12 to 14 have been arrested in a Town of Menasha burglary and vandalism caper after their alleged crimes were exposed on strategically placed trail cameras.
Trail cameras are typically meant to capture photos of wildlife, but the Town of Menasha Police Department is using them to help capture criminals.
Police said the alleged criminals caught in this case were vandalizing a construction site, near St. Mary Central High School. It's the future home of Seton Middle School, part of the Twin City Catholic Educational System.
"Those photos really are what broke that case," said Town of Menasha Police Officer Jason Weber.
The photos show boys wearing clothes police say were stolen.
"There was football equipment: helmets and shirts and jerseys, that type of stuff so that we could actually see them wearing it," explained Weber.
For the last month the Town of Menasha Police received complaints of vandalism at the construction site. Sports equipment was also taken from an outbuilding nearby on the St. Mary Central property.
"At one point these kids actually got in and drove one of those pieces of construction equipment around the job site and struck a fence," Weber told FOX 11.
Weber said police decided to set up two trail cameras to find the culprits.
"We were able to get footage of three kids that were responsible for these incidents," he explained.
According to Weber when the three boys saw the photos of themselves, they confessed. The boys are facing burglary and property damage charges in juvenile court.
School officials released a statement saying, in part: "Our building project is such a great asset to our campus and to the Town of Menasha that it particularly saddens us to find that there would be those who would vandalize this project."
Weber told us he's thankful the department has these small, infrared trail cameras, saying, "within a matter of ten, fifteen minutes you can have this thing installed anywhere."
Police say the trail cams can be hidden so well there could be one on you and you might not even know it.
"They're motion activated. You can set it for different times of day, for it to go on and off," Weber continued.
Weber told us officers have used the cameras to help investigate about a dozen crimes.
"This is a really good crime prevention, a really good security thing," he said.
Police told us they had the school district's permission to install the cameras.