4th April 2016
THEY want to put a red light to red-light cameras.
Long Islander Bryan Valentine, 26, was arrested Friday night for putting plastic bags over two red-light cameras at the intersection of Main Street and Landing Avenue in Smithtown.
Valentine is a follower of a group of self-styled “Red Light Robin Hoods,” who feel the cameras are a “money grab.” Members of the group hold get-togethers aimed at figuring out how to put the cameras out of commission.
The Saint James resident, who faces criminal-tampering charges, made bail Saturday and was released from the Suffolk County 4th Precinct station house. He is scheduled to be arraigned May 26 at Suffolk County District Court in Central Islip.
Stephen Ruth of Centereach, the leader of the Red Light Robin Hoods, confirmed Saturday that Valentine is affiliated with the group.
“Bryan was always willing to get arrested. He was a believer that this is unconstitutional and nothing more than a systematic form of extortion,” Ruth told The Post after Valentine was bailed out of jail.
“All I can do is give the guy respect,” Ruth said. “He believes in what he is doing. He told me [Saturday] he tried to get attention to the issue because it’s being ignored.”
Ruth, 42, was busted on similar charges eight months ago. His case is pending. On Saturday, Ruth wrote on Facebook of Valentine’s case: “People should go down to the courthouse and express their support and concern for Bryan and their discontent for the red-light-camera program.”
Soon after his own arrest in August, Ruth posted video on Facebook explaining to followers how to put red-light cameras out of commission.
“You only need a pair of balls and a painter’s extension rod [in order to point the cameras away from motorists] . . . It doesn’t take more than a minute to do this, and the satisfaction is huge,” Ruth said in the video. “I’m gonna show you how easy this is to take the power back.”
The video shows Ruth using the painter’s extension to turn the lens of a camera away from the roadway. “I just saved people about $10,000 today with this camera,” he boasted. “This is government taking advantage, and it’s going to stop!”
Ruth said Saturday that he didn’t instruct Valentine to tamper with the Smithtown lights. “But I will tell anybody to do it . . . I’m not afraid to go to jail … I have women who are willing to do it.”
Ruth hopes his campaign spreads nationwide.
“I advise all Americans to take the power back and take the cameras down. It doesn’t matter where you are.” He added the lights are timed so drivers have less than three seconds to stop in 90km/ph zones. Ruth has videotaped 100 Suffolk County intersections. Ruth believes officials shorten yellow lights at intersections with red-light cameras to jack up revenue.
He claims he’s ready to go to jail for his cause.
Ruth, a builder and landlord, said he “reached his breaking point” last August after his local priest told him he unjustly received four red-light camera tickets in a month.
“No politician is going to extort my priest for money,” Ruth said, noting that he was also tired of having to “pay the county, pay the county and pay the county” in property taxes.
“The red-light cameras revenue are the equivalent of a 60% tax increase to the general fund,” Ruth wrote on Facebook on March 23.
“Suffolk County yearly Revenue from red light camera trickery and murder is 38 million dollars.”