Long Island, N.Y – Last year, 42-year-old Stephen Ruth was arrested for disabling traffic cameras, and even making YouTube videos of himself in the act, showing other people how they too can disable traffic cameras fairly easily. As soon as the video went viral, Ruth quickly became known as the “Red Light Robin Hood” and was soon arrested by police.
In a testament to his dedication, almost 8 months later, and he’s at it again, and arrested again.
Ruth, now 43, was arrested right after a CBS 2 report was published in which he admitted to disabling dozens of cameras over the weekend.
“I cut the cable wires, making it useless,” Ruth said. “I’ve made it dysfunctional, just like the whole red light camera program.”
Monday night, Ruth’s son posted the following on his father’s Facebook page: “Hi this is Stephens son. My father was just arrested at our house by detectives after being chased by them. He escaped them but when they came to the house he honorably turned himself in because he isn’t doing anything wrong. He’s just trying to help people and save lives.”
Ruth is charged with two counts of second degree criminal mischief, a felony, police said. If convicted, Ruth faces up to 7 years in prison on each count.
Ruth’s arrest comes just days after Suffolk County Legislator Robert Trotta called for the suspension of the county’s red light camera program. Calling it “Taxation by Citation,” Trotta pointed out how the cameras have generated nearly $28 million in a year, but noted how nearly half the intersections with cameras have seen an increase in accidents.
Last year, Ruth was frustrated after receiving six tickets, and wanted to make a statement about the revenue generating scam, so he decided to get creative.
In the video, Ruth used a pole to shift the view of the camera into the sky, saying that he saved innocent drivers “at least 10,000 today.”
“[The red light cameras are] abusive. People are making full stops and they’re still getting tickets. Make a right after making sure no one is coming on the left, and you still get the ticket in the mail,” Ruth told NBC 4 New York.
“It’s abuse on the hard-working American and with the taxes we pay; it’s not necessary,” he said, adding that he was proud of what he did, even though he got arrested.
“Naturally, I thought I was going to be arrested. I thought it was a cause I was willing to fight for and I am still willing to fight for otherwise I wouldn’t be incriminating myself on Facebook,” he said.
After reports of this story went viral, Ruth became an internet legend and a hero to the people of Suffolk.
Suffolk Police Commanding Officer Milagros Soto disagrees however, saying that Ruth is a criminal and not a hero. “[The red light cameras are] placed at specific locations where there’s been high rates of crashes. Tampering with these cameras is a crime,” Soto said.