Video surveillance technology helping police catch suspects

Thanks to video surveillance technology, more and more crimes are being caught on tape. And that means crooks are more likely to be caught.

That was never more evident than last month when surveillance video was the biggest factor in identifying the Boston bombing suspects.

The people that are benefiting from it the most are the businesses, law enforcement and more and more homeowners.

Businesses with surveillance cameras often have fewer attempted robberies, and, when they do, the culprits are often busted. It's made police work easier when you have that kind of evidence.

And, as a well-publicized case in Michiana proved, surveillance cameras at your home can help deter and solve crime.

It may be the most searing surveillance video in American history.

The Tsarnaev brothers at the scene of the Boston bombing, caught by surveillance cameras at several nearby businesses, that allowed authorities to quickly close in on the suspects.

It's happening all over the country. The owner of a Florida optical shop was getting tired of people stealing expensive eyewear.

"That's the reason we got the cameras because we have had theft in the store before," said Melody Grant who owns Eyeglasses Shop.

The investment paid off quickly.

"I was disappointed we had our glasses stolen but excited we had proof of who it was," says Melody.

Her cameras caught two crooks who had their sights set on some pricey sunglasses.

On the tapes you can see one stuffs a pair of shades in his hoodie, another camera catches his partner in the upper right hand corner, also filling his pockets.

Detective Brian O'Reilly says this is just the latest in a growing trend of surveillance cameras capturing criminals in the act, and it's not just major crimes.

Petty crimes like shoplifters are getting more attention and exposure because of video evidence.

"If we find we have a good picture of the suspect or clothing or the getaway car we will send it to other agencies or even the media," says Police Detective Brian O’Reilly.

O'Reilly says catching the crooks on camera does not always mean they will be caught, But airing video like this to potentially thousands of sets of eyes is beneficial.

"It helps us apprehend a lot of suspects,” said Detective O’Reilly. “I cannot tell you how many off hand but I know that we have had several cases lately."

Police in Michiana see a similar trend, and there is one compelling reason besides the sheer number of cameras.

“Surveillance videos have been around for a long time,” said Lt. Cindy Kilgore the coordinator of Michiana Crime Stoppers. “Unfortunately, for a long time the quality of surveillance videos has been very poor for the most part. But now with the plethora of the digital capabilities, images are becoming much more clear. So, definitely it's becoming a game changer.

A vivid example came April 1 of 2012 when a South Bend man came face-to-face with a gun-toting thief who tried to steal his friend's moped outside his home.

The entire encounter was caught on tape and that led to a Crime Stoppers tip and subsequent arrest.

“We paid a reward on that one, because once we put it on our Crime Stoppers page it not only went to the media, which I am sure was a great help and generating the calls; as soon as it hits the media,” says Lt. Kilgore. “Almost every time there is a surveillance photo of some type we get calls. We also posted it on our Crime Stoppers Facebook page and on our website. I do not know where they saw it, they saw it and we got the tips.”

A reminder, there are all sorts of criminals on the run from this area.

They may not have been caught on surveillance video, but you can find their faces on the Michiana Crime Stoppers web page. And if you recognize any of them, you can leave an anonymous tip and receive a cash reward if they are caught.

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