Video cameras provide type of security

Jesse Weisbeck

A thief who made off with $800 from the Blimpie Subs and Salads till last month picked the right victim. The store didn’t have electronic surveillance.
But things are about to change.
Paul Nelson, general manager of the sandwich shop in Stadium Village, will soon install a security camera to help avoid future thefts. It will add Blimpie to the growing list of area vendors trying to stymie crime with technology.
For small stores, like the ones surrounding the University, electronic surveillance systems usually consist of cameras, recording equipment and monitors.
For many, the high costs of installing the systems is worth the extra protection they provide against thefts like the Blimpie heist.
Costs for individual security cameras range anywhere from $250 to $700, while adding 24-hour recording can cost an extra $800 to $900. Television monitors range anywhere from $150 for black and white sets to $500 for color sets, making security installations an expensive investment.
Despite their high cost, security cameras have become an important crime-fighting tool. Countless thieves and robbers have been caught thanks to the pervasive eye in the sky.
In the University area, many shops monitor their stores with surveillance cameras.
Employees at Harvard Market East, a Stadium Village convenience store, use surveillance cameras both to prevent theft and catch criminals.
The store owner installed four new security cameras and an extra monitor last spring to combat losses after the store experienced a string of robberies. The store previously had only two surveillance cameras and one monitor.
But while security cameras might save store owners money, they don’t necessarily provide employees with a sense of security.
Luke Heldt, who has worked at Harvard Market East for about two years, said while the cameras might help reduce crime they don’t make him feel any safer.
Bayou Coffee in Stadium Village monitors its register area with one camera. Employees agreed the cameras wouldn’t be much protection against a violent attack.
“We got a baseball bat in the corner, that makes me feel safe,” said Jason Misik, a Bayou Coffee employee.
While they might not make employees feel safer, some say the surveillance cameras are a strong criminal deterrent.
University Police Sgt. Joe May said cameras have been helpful in several different ways.
“Perpetrators who know the area is being videoed tend to not commit crimes,” May said.
In addition, May said University Police have intercepted crimes in progress with the help of security cameras.
Steve Frisk, Parking Services Cash and Security Supervisor at the University, oversees the security of 135 parking lots, which received new video surveillance about three years ago. Frisk said the alterations have greatly increased the University’s ability to monitor parking lots.
“The (University’s) idea behind installing cameras is the protection of individuals first and property secondly,” Frisk said.
University residence halls, however, are a different story.
Surveillance cameras have never been a regular part of resident hall security, said Ralph Rickgarn, executive assistant for Housing and Residential Life.
“We haven’t discussed the issue for years,” said Rickgarn, who has worked in resident hall affairs for 27 years. He added that in some isolated incidents video surveillance has been used in the residence halls.
Installing cameras in dormitories would be very costly because many points of access would need monitoring for camera surveillance to be effective, Rickgarn said.