Video: Family photo captures thief in action

  1. Closed captioning of: Family photo captures thief in action

    >> let's begin this morning with a new jersey family who captured a man in the act of robbing them in a family photo . we're going to talk to them in a moment. but first, nbc's kevin tibbles has their story.

    >> reporter: for the myers family, it was supposed to be a fun getaway, complete with snapshots to cherish the memories.

    >> my husband is always taking lots of pictures of us.

    >> reporter: a trip to wisconsin to attend a friend's wedding.

    >> we flew in to milwaukee, and then the next day, we drove to madison.

    >> reporter: just think of the famous cheese, picturesque farmland, and not to be missed, the state capitol . but for every traveler, no matter how experienced, no matter where you are, even wisconsin , there's always that nagging fear of having your bag and all your money stolen. with their bag and kids in tow, the family eagerly awaited the reception.

    >> we were all dressed up, it was a great opportunity to have a family shot.

    >> reporter: john myers set the timer on his camera, and hustled in to frame. shortly after, they couldn't find john's bag. with their i.d.s, and $1,000 worth of stuff.

    >> all kinds of things were in our bag. it would have just ruined our whole trip. it was like the rental car keys, an ipad that's in there.

    >> reporter: and worst of all, the kids' toys.

    >> the first time in wisconsin and this happens to them.

    >> reporter: after a futile search they had an idea.

    >> then it occurred to him that maybe the person who took it would be captured in the shot that we just took.

    >> reporter: sure enough, there he was. the bandit. caught red-handed. police recognized and soon apprehended 59-year-old glen rambright of no known address who has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor theft.

    >> this is the dumpster or the trash can that everything was in.

    >> he stole it. he put it in the garbage.

    >> reporter: in the end, police recovered everything, including the bag. all in time for the miers to make the reception. now there's a photo for the scrapbook. for "today," kevin tibbles, nbc news, chicago.

    >>> and the myers family is with us exclusively. good morning to all of you. john we should mention you're in seattle, you're on your way to a friend's wedding which is why you couldn't be here with us. but you were at another wedding in wisconsin when this actually happened. i wonder, what did you think the chances were that you would get your bag back because of that photo ? and what did you think when you found out that this is actually captured on film?

    >> i thought the bag was gone, and then when i did notice the photo , i thought the only souvenir i'd have was the photo of the person who took it. i really didn't expect to get the bag back. even after first seeing the photo .

    >> i know hindsight is 20/20 and i'm not trying to put you on the spot. but this bag had your ipad, your wagate, it had cash, credit cards . how did you manage to let it get so far away from you?

    >> yeah, a lot of people have commented on this fact. when we first walked outside the building, i was taking pictures of the kids right next to my bag. and then, you know, as kids do, we drifted away a little bit, and then i noticed a low wall that i could rest my camera on to do a timer shot. so, we just kind of drifted over about 20 feet away, and then i set up the one shot, and just took that one picture, and, you know, we started to walk away , and i realized, oh, let me go just grab my bag and that's when i realized it was gone.

    >> when you found out that it was missing, i can imagine what my wife would have said to me. were there words exchanged?

    >> well, he asked me, do you have my bag? and i'm like, no! i don't have your bag. why would i have your bag. of course it was that kind of frustration of like oh, why did you leave it there? and you know, keep an eye on the bag. and now our whole vacation is ruined.

    >> you actually had some of your toys in that bag as well, right? you got those back from the police, right? do you remember which toys they were? no? what did you say to the police when they gave it back to you? do you remember? you're the man? thank you?

    >> thank you.

    >> that's usually a good response. i know, john, before i let you go, some on the web have been mentioning the blue suit you were wearing in this photo . which looks like something out of "dumb and dumber." are you going to bust that out again for the wedding you're at now?

    >> i'd like to point out that i'm wearing the same suit right now. and for all the people who didn't like it, this suit belonged to my father, and i was looking for a nice summerweight suit to wear to the wedding, and i love this suit. so --

    >> obviously you're very passionate about it. although some on the internet felt differently.

    >> you know, it's good to be on the cutting edge with fashion. you don't want to be too safe.

    >> it's all cyclical. it all comes back. the myers family, thank you so much for your time. it's a great story.

updated 8/26/2010 12:25:16 PM ET 2010-08-26T16:25:16

The Myers family was all dressed up for a wedding, so they thought it would be a good time to take a family photo. But it was also the perfect time for a bag thief to strike.

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While the vacationing New Jersey family posed for a snapshot in the front of the Wisconsin State Capitol, a bag containing many of their valuables was snatched. Luckily for them, the photo captured the alleged thief in the act.

"I thought the bag was gone," John Myers recalled, speaking to Carl Quintanilla on NBC's TODAY show. "When I did notice the photo, I thought the only souvenir I'd have was the photo of the person who took it. I really didn't expect to get the bag back, even after first seeing the photo."

The Bloomfield, N.J., man showed his photo to the Capitol Police. Officers recognized the man, and a few minutes later arrested Glenn Lambright, 59, who pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor theft on Tuesday.

"All kinds of things were in our bag. It would have just ruined our whole trip ... it was like the rental car keys, an iPad was in there," said Kathy Myers. The bag also contained a wallet, credit cards, cash and the family's identifications.

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Originally, the family started taking photos next to the bag, John Myers said, but "as kids do, we drifted away a little bit" — about 20 feet away. After snapping the now infamous photo, Myers went to retrieve his bag when he realized it was gone.

"He asked me 'Do you have my bag?' and I was like, 'No, I don't have your bag... Why would I have your bag?' " Kathy Myers said. "So of course there was that kind of frustration of 'Ugh, why did you leave it there?' "

Why was the bag of valuables left unattended?

"A lot of people have commented on this fact," John Myers wryly said.

Police recovered everything — including the bag.

NBC News and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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