Man reunited with stolen camera, priceless photos of late wife


Dave Lacey walked out of a Santa Ana pawn shop, clutching the camera stolen from his home more than a year ago.

"I'm super excited. I had written it off that it was gone and stolen forever," said Lacey.

Lacey recognized the camera by the unique strap made by his wife, Erica, who passed away from cancer at age 30.

"She was a super, super strong woman, super talented," said Lacey. "Right before we were married, she was diagnosed with cancer."

On the camera were more than 300 priceless snapshots of her funeral and celebration of life.

It's complicated how Lacey found out about the camera, but it goes back to an unrelated home burglary and a stolen computer.

"Through a tracking application in the computer, we were able to find the location where the suspect was at," said Detective Paul McClaskey with the Santa Ana Police Department.

The suspect, identified as 20-year-old David Aguilar, was arrested for possession of stolen property. On Thursday, his girlfriend, 21-year-old Monica Molina, was also taken into custody.

In addition to the stolen property found inside the suspect's home, detectives also located the receipts of more than 20 items pawned at the Santa Ana business. One of those receipts was for Lacey's camera. Detectives went to the pawn shop and looked closely at the photos.

"I recognized a picture of a wall and a tree and that jogged a memory," said Santa Ana Police Detective Jerry Verdugo.

Police went to the neighborhood where they thought the photo was taken and eventually found Lacey.

"That was pretty awesome," said Lacey. "Having it back with the memories is fantastic."

Among the recovered items was another stolen camera. Police are hoping to find the rightful owners. They have released a photo that shows a family visiting the Grand Canyon. Anyone who recognizes the picture was asked to call Orange County Crime Stoppers at (855) TIP-OCCS.

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