Police say a man who was previously arrested for tampering with four of Suffolk County’s red light cameras has struck again, this time damaging 19 of them.
The county installed red light cameras at numerous busy intersections in 2010. The cameras snap photos of cars whose drivers have run a red light or did not come to a full stop before turning right on red, and the information captured is used to generate traffic tickets that are sent to the owners.
Signs alert approaching drivers at every intersection where there is a camera.
Centereach resident Stephen Ruth was first cuffed in August for allegedly using a pole to reach several red light cameras in Ronkonkoma and turn their lenses away from the road and toward the sky. He was charged with criminal tampering and obstructing governmental administration. On Tuesday afternoon, the Suffolk County Police Department announced detectives had once again arrested Ruth, this time for allegedly tampering with 19 of the cameras throughout the county.
Police said Ruth “cut wires and manipulated equipment” on 18 of those cameras between April 9 and 10. The 19th camera incident in question dates back to Jan. 18, police said, when Ruth allegedly cut down a camera pole at the intersection of County Road 83 and Old Town Road in Coram.
According to a police estimate, the incidents caused at least $25,000 of damage.
Ruth, 43, has been charged with two felony counts of second-degree criminal mischief. Hauppauge-based attorneys William J. Keahon and Craig Fleischer are representing him on those charges but are not commenting on the case, according to their law office.
Ruth’s arrest comes about a week after another man was arrested for allegedly tampering with red light cameras. Bryan Valentine, of St. James, has been charged with two counts of second-degree criminal tampering after police said the 26-year-old placed plastic bags over red light cameras at the signal in the Main Street/Landing Avenue intersection in Smithtown.
Related: Man covered up red light cameras
Attorney information for Valentine was not available.
In interviews Ruth — whom his supporters have dubbed the “Red Light Robin Hood” — has stood behind his actions. He has received praise from people who oppose the county’s red light camera program and say it is simply a money grab, as the county receives much revenue from the tickets generated.