Caught on video: Man steals St. Paul motorcycle cop's $700 helmet

Prosecutors say Moe Oo has a lengthy criminal history including a conviction for stealing a car earlier this year. But one of his latest acquisitions belongs to a St. Paul motorcycle cop.

The officer parked his bike between the police department and the Ramsey County Jail Monday morning. When he returned an hour and a half later, he discovered the helmet he'd left hanging from one of his side mirrors was gone.

"The practice that they normally follow is that when it's on police property, officers are comfortable just hanging their helmets off the motorcycle -- that's what he did in this case," St, Paul Police Spokesperson Sgt. Mike Ernster said. "When they are out in public, they always secure their helmets for safety and security reasons. But in this case, he didn't secure it. He left it hanging from his motorcycle."

Surveillance video shows Oo riding up to the motorcycle on his bicycle and stopping to take a look before taking off. He returns a few minutes later, takes the helmet and replaces it with his own black Chicago Bulls baseball cap, before he puts the helmet on and rides away.

"It's very bold. At 10:20 in the morning when people are walking around. It's a very busy time of day in that area," Sgt. Ernster said.

Police caught up to Oo just after midnight when they got a call someone had broken into a grocery store on the city's north end. Officers found Oo coming out of with his arms full of clothes and food, plus a metal emblem from the motorcycle unit, but no helmet.

When they confronted Oo with a still picture from the surveillance video, Oo admitted he took the helmet, but he wouldn't tell police why or what he had done with it. He would only say it was his for the taking because the officer had left it on the motorcycle.

"He just said he left his own hat there for the officer, but he left with the helmet," Sgt. Ernster said.

Police say this is the first time anything has been stolen from an officer in the motorcycle unit. As a result, the department will require them to lock down their helmets, which costs about $700, whenever they are in public, even outside police headquarters.

"You would hope that things would be secure anywhere, but crime can happen anywhere and it happened to us on this day," Sgt. Ernster said.

Oo is charged with theft, burglary, and auto theft.