Hidden cameras are being used all over the world these days to identify and catch criminals. Cameras can be found on street corners, shopping malls, convenience stores and just about anyplace where unwanted or criminal activity can be filmed in order to identify and convict criminals as the article below describes.
“Surveillance cameras that police say help them catch up to 85 percent of robbers of small stores and restaurants in Orlando are being installed in Altamonte Springs, part of a quiet trend toward hidden security.
The cameras — small, quiet and able to operate automatically or at a cashier’s signal — have been placed in stores nationwide for 16 years.
Although some stores post signs saying that patrons are being watched, others choose to keep the existence and location of the cameras a secret to customers and employees. Some police departments also are reluctant to discuss the cameras for fear criminals will figure out ways to buck the systems.
Hidden cameras have been used for six years by convenience stores, restaurants and liquor stores in Orlando. Police would not give specific figures but said the cameras and their pictures have helped them arrest 80 percent to 85 percent of robbers, with a 100 percent conviction rate.
Orlando police would not give details about their cameras or say where or how they are used. They said the number of robberies dropped drastically when the cameras were first introduced, although such crimes have increased since and are keeping pace with the city’s growth.
In Orlando, robberies of convenience stores dropped from 36 in 1985 to 28 in 1986.
Statewide, 35,508 robberies were reported in 1985, and 3,908 of those were at convenience stores. In most of those — 2,419 — the robber used a gun. In 1986, robberies jumped to 42,817 statewide. There were 5,288 convenience store robberies, and 2,947 suspects used guns. No figures were available for 1987.
The city bought its first 25 cameras through a grant in 1982. Another 65 have been bought by stores through Orlando’s program. Orlando police maintain and provide film for the 35mm cameras, according to a police spokesman.
”The pictures give us a way to eliminate the one-on-one identification in a court case,” said an Orlando investigator who did not want to be named. ”Many times it’s the clerk’s word against the supect’s. It’s much easier to convince a jury with a 5-by-10 color print.”
Orlando police say they have used the pictures to convict suspects and break large robbery rings. The cameras also help curb employee theft.
Altamonte Springs police recently borrowed a camera from Orlando police for three months so they could test it. Even though there were no robberies at the convenience store where it was installed, the city has agreed to buy two cameras and start a program of its own.
Lt. Steve Garver said the first two cameras, valued at $522 each, will be placed secretly in convenience stores next week. The cameras will be rotated according to a weekly analysis of crime statistics.
”This is just another way of gaining evidence when we can’t be there ourselves,” Garver said. ”We don’t have the manpower to stake out every problem area.””
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