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Robber Caught on Surveillance Camera

Whatever happened to Michael Steele, who was caught fleeing a July robbery by a system of surveillance cameras installed by Madison Avenue merchants?

Judge Eileen T. Gallagher sentenced Steele to 17 years in prison last fall -- six years for the 14 aggravated robbery counts he admitted to and 11 for carrying a gun during many of the crimes.

Many Madison Avenue merchants, store owners who had been held up at gunpoint, attended the hearing alongside their Ward 16 Councilman Jay Westbrook. Others wrote letters about how the robberies had impacted their lives and business.

Neighborhood safety advocate Michael McDonald said it was very moving to hear them speak. He credits the merchants and the community members for banding together to continue to find creative ways to make the neighborhoods and businesses in the area safe.

Steele's image was captured on numerous cameras mounted outside of Madison Avenue businesses on the morning of July 2 after he crept up on a cashier at Frank's Tackle Co. on Berea Road as she cleaned the minnow tank. The 33-year-old raced off down Madison Avenue with hundreds of dollars in cash, knives - and six packs of smokes.

Business owners had purchased the cameras at a discount and all linked together via computer though a neighborhood safety program. Since they were installed in April they have caught a myriad of crimes and assisted police with investigations.

After Steele's quick arrest, he admitted to robbing more than a dozen businesses since March, including a pizza shop, a convenience store and a consignment shop. He made off with hundreds of dollars. He told police he kept a journal in his bedroom where he wrote about how bad he felt afterward.

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