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Investigator seeks public's help in IDing witnesses in possible Bed, Bath & Beyond arson

It appears -- though not certain at this stage of the ongoing investigation -- that the fire that heavily damaged Bed, Bath & Beyond's store in Batavia in January was deliberately set, according to Investigator Kris Kautz, of the Sheriff's Office.

Kautz is requesting the public's help in identifying people who were in the store that day so they can be interviewed. He's looking to identify the four people in these photos because he would like to talk with them.

None of the four are considered suspects.

In fact, the Sheriff's Office has a person of interest in the case, but still needs to gather more evidence.

"We have no proof of his actions, if in fact he's involved at all," Kautz said, "but there is an individual in video footage who appears consistent with a known individual we are looking at."

Kautz acknowledges these four pictures are low quality, but it's all he has to work with. They are still photos shot of a video monitor screen.

Sometimes people can recall things that seem unimportant to them, but would be important to the case.

"Any of these people might remember this or that or they can say 'I saw a guy,' " Kautz said. "You never know. This is a fishing trip as we call it in the business. Sometimes people know stuff they don't know is important. Sometimes all they need is a little prodding to know what they know."

The retail store in Batavia Towne Center has been closed for months and officials say it will be a long time yet before it reopens.

Investigator Kautz can be reached by calling the Sheriff's Office at (585) 343-5000. He's hoping people who recognize themselves will call him, or perhaps a friend, neighbor or relative might recognize somebody and provide Kautz with the identity.

Mark Potwora
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why would they wait so long to bring this to the public's attention..

alvin tufts
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Ego

Jeff Allen
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I don't understand the ego comment

kevin kretschmer
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Aren't the bottom two photos of the same person?

alvin tufts
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They don't ask for the public's help sooner, because they want to pump their ego. Solve it alone. A lot of crimes could be solved faster if current tech was utilized.

Tim Miller
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Or... As Howard noted, they had other trails they were following, and once those got cold or were taken as far as they could, the pictures were published.

Heck, there may even have been folks in the Batavia PD that really didn't want to publish photos of random shoppers who happened to be in the vicinity to see someone start a fire, wishing to keep these innocent shoppers out of the limelight.

alvin tufts
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I don't think that is their concern since they are talking about installing cameras all over town.

Scott Blossom
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I have had involvement with a couple investigations, and asked the same question on the first one and what the investigator said made sense to me.

You run everything you can get and have all involved keep their mouths closed as best they can while they investigate. You avoid going public with what you are doing and how you are progressing as long as you can.

Why?

The more you show your hand to a suspect, the more likely they can find ways to cover their tracks or escape the area.

Do any of you play poker, gin, uker, hearts, go fish? If so, do you play with all of your cards exposed for everyone to see? You'll lose every hand if you do.

alvin tufts
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Once they are identified it is much harder to hide. Quicker turnover would cost the taxpayers less. Then they can work on other investigations with their new free time.

jeff saquella
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you know.........you'd think that stores and especially banks would have better surveillance camera's then maybe we could get clear photo's of suspects instead of near impossible pictures to look at

Scott Blossom
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Identifying is one thing, having all of the facts and evidence to back it up in court is another.

To paraphrase a line in a movie, Its not what I know, its what I can prove!

Many criminals have gotten off in the past when a DA pulls the trigger on a case too soon. All ducks must be in a row and quacking in unison in order to convict a criminal.

Maybe you have not had involvement in an investigation, but at least have you seen any of the CSI shows, Law and Order, Perry Mason, Matlock, Columbo, etc. They all showed the processes involved in solving crime quite accurately. Defense attorneys are all set to find loop holes and technicalities to get their clients off. That is their job, and you have to be able to head them off before they can strike.

I think I can trust the judgment of the investigators we have, they do a pretty damn good job on convictions. Are they always perfect, no. They are human also.

Kyle Couchman
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Alvin should perhaps read things better. Nowhere did our police say they want to "install cameras all over town" . What they said was they wanted to get a single portable unit to move around to problem areas of town.

Under the heading of public safety, the police department wants to spend $7,500 to purchase a portable video-surveilance system.

“It’s a portable surveillance camera that other cities are using across the state,” Batavia Police Chief Shawn Heubusch said. “Basically it will just allow us to have more eyes out there. It’s not monitored 24/7. There’s a lot of neighborhoods that have put this into use and they’ve seen a reduction in crime just by having the camera present.”

So where does this mean we get cameras all over town? I love the way people over exxagerate this to make it seem more nefarious and invasive to stir up public sentiment against it. Because if we just deal with the facts its just not that big of an issue....

Greg Siedlecki
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You would think that a multi-million dollar company like BB&Beyond would have a much better surviellance system!

Julie Morales
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“maybe we could get clear photo's of suspects….”

Yeah….these aren’t “suspects.” The way I understand this article, they are possible witnesses to a possible arson “…though not certain at this stage of the ongoing investigation.”

Why couldn’t they simply ask if anyone has anything that may be relevant to contact the police? Why are grainy pictures of four random people even necessary? Only four people went to Bed, Bath and Beyond that day? If these guys, or anyone else, knew anything, wouldn’t they have contacted the police months ago? This seems really odd.

And I am very much against posting pictures this way….obviously it doesn’t matter if they aren’t labeled “suspects”……the torch and hang rope crowd will certainly see them that way. Jeez….supposedly it hasn’t even been determined that a crime has been committed! Not much of a poker strategy, either. IMO.

“Defense attorneys are all set to find loop holes and technicalities to get their clients off. That is their job, and you have to be able to head them off before they can strike.”

Yeah, because everyone charged with a crime is guilty.

Btw….Perry Mason and Matlock were both serpentine defense attorneys.

“They all showed the processes involved in solving crime quite accurately”

I especially loved it when Perry’s client slapped him across the face and fell into a weeping heap on the floor. That was darn accurate.

C. M. Barons
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The fire was reported on a Monday afternoon about 4 PM by the store's alarm system- NOT customers or employees. One assumes Monday afternoon is not a busy sales time. Initial reports indicated the fire started on the sales floor, in the bedding department. Subsequent reports suggest an unlocked storage closet as the point of ignition. All of the store employees were offered reassignment. It would appear that renovation of the store is being handled by property-owners, COR Development with no official word on re-opening from Bed, Bath and Beyond. ...Nor is there word on the fate of neighboring retailer, RadioShack; parent company RadioShack Corp having announced the closing of approximately 25% of its retail locations. Anchor-store, Lowe's, closed two years prior. Plans are to fill the Lowe's vacancy with two retail stores: Dick's Sporting Goods and Kohl's. Marshall's has announced plans to build an adjacent store. The latter developments seeded, heavily, by IDA grants and tax deferrals. BBBY stock has fallen from the buy to the sell category as stock prices have dropped and recent profit trends have been disappointing. Recently the BBBY upper management went through a shake-up. Although no drastic store closures have been announced, specific locations such as Salinas, California have been shuttered. BBBY generally leases property- as was the case in Batavia. It is less a bargain retailer; more a MOR retailer. It tends to place its stores in proximity to large cities. Kohls and Marshalls would definitely impact the bottom line of BBBY's Batavia location- should the store re-open. Target also competes for a share in that bottom line.

I would not suggest that BBBY management had any role in the fire. More likely it was a disgruntled customer, employee or random arson bug. I would suggest that BBBY would be hard-pressed to find motivation to re-open.

Greg Siedlecki
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Satch, I've been doing security and surviellance systems for 25 years and have installed better systems at "Mom and Pop" stores!

Frank Bartholomew
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Greg, is the price of a good system that much higher that some would settle for such low quality shots? If I was to purchase such a system, I would be looking to get a refund if the system I purchased produced such low end images.

Jeff Allen
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They all appear to be photographs taken off from a video screen

Jeff Allen
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I admit, I missed that statement in the article. If fuzzy still shots from a monitor screen are all that was provided to the investigators than C.M.'s post becomes even more interesting.

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