Mobile cameras used to fight crime



Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:38 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 19 at 6:34 PM

HOUSTON - The Greater Sharpstown Management District has put up four mobile camera units at what officials call hotspots for crime.

The cameras are being used in southwest Houston
June 24, 2009

The cameras are located at 9889 Harwin, 7614 Clarewood, 10211 Club Creek Drive and 9600 Bellaire. Each unit will be up for two months while officials determine if they work.

The 9600 Bellaire location is considered the Chinatown Wall Street. There are 17 banks near the area, close to Beltway 8 West. It's convenient for business owners and crooks says Sgt. Connie Rico who is with the Precinct 5 Constable's office.

"Their customers are getting followed immediately after they leaving the bank, they have large amount of money," said Sgt. Rico.

She said that customers were being followed to their shops and homes and getting robbed. This is the reason that the banking area became a surveillance camera test location.

The video is both recorded and streamed to a Web site 24 hours a day. A client can check the cameras at any time too.

Each mobile unit costs about $1,500 a month.

The trial period is being funded by the Greater Sharpstown Management District.

Executive Director Bill Calderon says the equipment is better than standard security cameras, which often give grainy images.

"(It's) high resolution. They can hone in on faces, apparel labels and license plate numbers. (It's) very, very high tech," said Calderon.

Has this helped to solve crimes in the Greater Sharpstown area? Well, Calderon says the cameras are actually preventing crime.

"All the issues they had with people casing the parking lot, breaking into cars, taking people's possessions, went from several days to zero," he said.

Calderon said that he is looking to grants or banks and other businesses eventually to purchase mobile cameras or lease it long term.

The cameras have also helped shops and families next to La Chona, a nightclub on Club Creek at Bellaire. HPD had been targeting the location for a while.

In addition to often typical nightclub problems, there were reports of human trafficking, prostitution and drug dealing.

After the monitors came in, the club's customers got camera shy and stopped coming.

Abid Metawala is a clerk at the American Meat Market, one of the businesses neighboring the cantina. "Some people, they look at camera and they don't stay here anymore," said Metawala.

Shortly afterwards, La Chona surrendered its liquor license and closed.