A photographer from Chicago who came to New York City to take pictures of a bride and groom had his camera stolen Wednesday afternoon, him quite upset. However, his anger didn’t last too long, thanks to the sharp eye of an off-duty NYPD detective and the poor decision-making of the thieves themselves.
Mirlanbek Murzapazylov, 25, was hired by a couple to photograph them on Wednesday inside Prospect Park. In a phone interview Wednesday evening, the photographer told JP Updates how the story unfolded.
“I was taking different kinds of photos of them at one point around 1 p.m.,” Murzapazylov said. “I took a photo of the couple sitting on a horse, so I put my camera down on a stand and took photos with my second camera. However, as I turned around I saw the camera and the stand were gone, and I started looking around and couldn’t find them.”
The camera was a Canon Mk III, worth $4,500, with a lens worth $1,500. The stand was worth another $500, police said.
Murzapazylov then called the police.
“While I was waiting for the police, I was searching around in the park, but didn’t find it,” said. “Some man came up to me and asked me what I’m looking for, so I told him I have a very expensive camera that was just stolen here. The man told me that he saw two men running out with the camera and stand. When police arrived, I told them the description of the two suspects. They took me in their car, and we started searching for them, but we didn’t find them. The officers then said that a detective will follow up with the investigation.”
Detective Mohtsham Yousaf of the 78th Precinct was assigned the case and started an investigation. When he finished working, he went to NYC Fleet Safety located in Borough Park to install a dash camera and a remote starter for his personal vehicle. As he was standing outside the shop at 1260 36th Street, two men walked up to him and asked, “Do you want buy this?” while showing him a camera stand. Yousaf said yes and asked them if they have the camera for it as well. The pair said yes. The detective took the camera and started looking at the photos and realized the pictures were of the couple from Prospect Park.
Yousaf identified himself as a police officer and told them not to move. He called 911 and responding officers from the 66th Precinct placed both men under arrest.
The pair was later identified as Fernando Martinez, 21, and Yovan Collado, 18, from the Bronx and confessed to detectives that they stole the camera and stand. They were charged with criminal possession of stolen property, police said.
“I really, really appreciate the police,” Murzapazylov said. “Their work is unbelievable.”