Police Pull Fast One on Suspected Con Artists

September 28, 2010 Updated Sep 28, 2010 at 11:29 PM EDT

By John Borsa

...
September 28, 2010 Updated Sep 28, 2010 at 11:29 PM EDT

CHEEKTOWAGA, NY (WKBW) -- Two alleged con artists, using magic-like slight of hand and distraction, who pulled of a number of heists were not fast enough to fool modern technology that caught them in the blink of an eye.

Dijon Harris, 43, and Tracy Stewart, 41, both of Buffalo, were nabbed leaving The Home Depot store at Thruway Plaza on Monday after a failed quick change scam, police said.

"One would ask for a hundred dollar bill and then give change," said Cheektowaga Police Capt. James Speyer.

"They'd switch the hundred for a ten dollar bill and then claim they only received a ten, not the hundred they requested," Speyer said, explaining the alleged scam.

Speyer said the duo successfully pulled of the quick change con at least four times by confusing cashiers at the home improvement store and at the nearby Walmart.

"I would not be surprised if they were responsible for other incidents in the area," he said.

The scam is one of the oldest tricks in the book, but the alleged scammers were no match for cutting-edge technology.

When the suspects left The Home Depot following their failed attempt, a store clerk called police with the license plate number of the getaway car.

Officer Christopher Lovalo responded to the store in his police cruiser, which is outfitted with two cameras that scan license plates of passing vehicles and cross-checks the plate number with the DMV computer system.

"As I drove by, the license plate reader alerted me that [a passing car] was in fact was the suspect vehicle," said Lovalo, who quickly initiated a traffic stop and arrested the two men.

Both Harris and Stewart are charged with multiple counts of Petit Larceny and Scheme to Defraud.