Spy cameras catch burglars: BBC item

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/2582495.stm

Homes in the West Midlands are being fitted with secret cameras in an attempt to catch burglars in the act.

The scheme has already been successfully piloted in Coventry and is now being extended across the whole of the West Midlands Police area.

It involves a tiny, infrared camera being installed in the homes of serial burglary victims.

Home Office research shows many offenders return to the original target within a short time because only makeshift repairs have been carried out or the householder has replaced all of the stolen goods.

The cameras can be easily hidden inside objects so they are undetectable to burglars. The cameras can be placed in everyday objects

Four burglars have already been caught and convicted as a result of the cameras during the scheme’s pilot phase.

Superintendent Peter Goodman said: “The cameras are so small they are almost invisible to the naked eye.

“Hopefully, by installing these cameras in the most vulnerable properties, we will be able to catch thieves ‘in the act’.

“The most susceptible homes and those most likely to be subject of repeat break-ins are those which are exposed and have little evidence of home security.”

The spy-camera is the latest initiative from Operation Safe Homes, a force-wide operation set up to reduce burglary.

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PRESS RELEASE

http://www.west-midlands.police.uk

Police To Use Tiny Undercover Hi-Tech Cameras To Catch Burglars ‘In The Act’

West Midlands Police Posted on: Tuesday 17 December 2002 at 10am

THE homes of vulnerable victims of burglary are to be installed with special undercover high-tech cameras aimed at catching thieves literally ‘in the act’.

The ‘House Trap’ cameras are being installed at homes across the West Midlands identified as being particularly vulnerable to being burgled – most have been victims on more than one occasion.

The latest initiative is part of Operation Safer Homes, a forcewide operation to tackle burglary and the handlers of stolen property.

“Every operational command unit has been asked to identify their local ‘hot properties’ – those which are most vulnerable to being broken into or have suffered previous burglaries,” said Superintendent Peter Goodman, who is co-ordinating the campaign.

“A tiny, infra red camera will be installed in these premises in an attempt to capture anyone who breaks in. The cameras are so small they are almost invisible to the naked eye.”

The devices can be easily hidden in objects around the house, making them virtually undetectable to burglars.

The cameras have been trialled in Coventry and, to-date, four burglars have been convicted after they were clearly shown raiding homes (see note overleaf).

“The aim of using these cameras is to protect vulnerable homes and to act as a deterrent to would-be burglars,” said Supt Goodman.

“The most susceptible homes, and those most likely to be subject of repeat break-ins, are those which are exposed and have little evidence of security such as alarms, good locks or solid doors.

“Home Office research shows many offenders return to the original target within a short time because only makeshift repairs have been carried out to the property or the householder has replaced all of the stolen property with new items,” said Supt Goodman.

“Therefore, where a home is burgled it’s important the householder takes immediate action. They should not only repair the damage caused but look at how and why they were a victim in the first place. By doing this they can identify the vulnerable points of their security and take action to address this.

“Hopefully, by installing these cameras in the most vulnerable properties, we will be able to catch thieves ‘in the act’. But we would rather prevent a break-in taking place in the first place,” said Supt Goodman.

Since being launched in October, Operation Safer Homes has seen a reduction in offences of more than 25 per cent compared to October and November last year. Year-to-date figures (from April to November) show a forcewide reduction of 13.6 per cent (17,696 offences compared to 20,542) – resulting in 2,846 fewer victims of burglary.

Superintendent Mark Sheasby, from Chace Avenue operational command unit in Coventry, was responsible for piloting the hidden cameras, which were funded by Coventry City Council’s Action Against Crime group.

He said: “The quality of images captured using these devices is excellent and should send out a clear warning to offenders. By using these devices, we are turning the table on burglars.

“The technology we are using is evolving all the time and since these cameras were originally piloted we have been developing even more sophisticated techniques. In this operational command unit alone we are seeing over 80 fewer victims of burglary a week as a result of our tactics.

“It is also important to stress that we are not just targeting burglars but also the handlers of stolen goods. In one of the examples captured on camera we carried out surveillance which resulted in the arrest of a network of burglars and thieves after the property was sold on.

“We have had some excellent results in Coventry and all of the feedback we have received from members of the public show they really welcome this initiative.”

Members of the public who are interested in learning more about the hidden cameras initiative are asked to contact their local police station.

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