Judge “Doesn’t Regret” Getting in on Camera Caper

Judge intervened after photographer's camera was stolen

Shawn Grate
Ashland County Sheriff Office

She is a gracious lady, she is a judge and she is a crime fighter -- or at least when it got right down to it, she tracked down a camera thief and her son wrapped up the job.

This is a story about a Miami Herald photographer, his camera, a taco stand owner, a taco stand customer, the judge's son and a crook on roller blades.

Judge Deborah White-Labora was running errands with her kids, they were about to depart on a flight at MIA. 

Moments earlier, Herald Photographer Al Diaz was shooting a feature story about a taco stand.  A guy on roller blades swooped by and snatched Al's $5,000 camera. Al called 911. He couldn't leave his other cameras and equipment.

But the taco stand owner, Moises Gonzales, and a customer gave chase. Others joined in. Hot on the trail, they were tiring when White-Labora drove by, they hollered, she stopped and the chase was on.

 "Even though the level of help was a little more than I had planned," White-Labora now said, looking back, "I do not regret  it."

White-Labora put the pedal to the metal, spotted the thief, pulled up across a lawn and then, to her amazement, her son Christopher, the art student, jumped out of the van and wrestled the bad guy to the ground.

"I never expected that out of him!," White-Labora recalled. The scuffle continued with the taco stand owner getting in his licks. Out the front door of the home where this was all going down, Ian Vaquero, a U.S. Army vet with heavy duty time spend in Iraq, emerged -- with a 9mm Smith & Wesson.

The crook was carted off to jail. Diaz got  his camera back and Mayor Tomas Regalado presented the whole crew with a City proclamation Thursday, noting their dash of heroism and willingness to get involved. 

"Who needs the cops when we have these folks around?," Regalado joked.  He was just kidding, and brought the police chief up to the dais to have his picture taken with the White-Labora and her unique crime fighting squad.

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