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NYPD denies “ear lobe” photo led them to arson suspect

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BROOKLYN, New York (PIX11) – The NYPD denied Friday a published report saying an “ear lobe” photo of a suspected arsonist proved to be the crucial match in its database that led to the man’s arrest.

But the department acknowledged “Facial Recognition Technology” did play a role in the apprehension of the 35-year old suspect, Ruben Ubiles—a career criminal with 52 arrests in his background.

Facial recognition 2

Ubiles was charged with multiple counts of arson and burglary as hate crimes—for the Monday and Tuesday burning of twelve Jewish mezuzahs, on the apartment doors of residents in Williamsburg buildings.  A mezuzah holds a tiny, religious scroll containing a prayer.

Police said Ubiles was captured on surveillance footage Tuesday, around the time the last arson happened at 130 Clymer Street in Williamsburg.  Various photos entered into a computer at the NYPD’s “Real Time Crime Center” ended up providing a match to Ubiles’ name.  Ubiles has a rap sheet dating back to the 1990’s for various crimes, including drug possession and assault.  He was just recently charged with punching his girlfriend in the face and stealing her ATM card.

Facial recognition

When PIX 11 visited the Clymer Street building Friday, one Holocaust survivor from Hungary marveled at the computer database that made a match to Ubiles’ name.  “Really, it’s a miracle, a miracle, because I was so scared,” said Marika Lovy, whose father was killed in the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. “I was afraid to go out for two days,” Lovy told PIX.

Another resident, Terrence Wooten, was just happy the hidden cameras did their job.  “In most of these New York City Housing projects, you have surveillance cameras, but most of them don’t work,” said Wooten.  “In this case, it did.”