Business owners in Vanderhoof can breath a little easier this winter thanks to the ‘Flash Cam’, a new security device that will catch vandals in the act.
The approval for the purchase of the portable camera was passed at the last council meeting on September 22 and should be available for use by the RCMP in a couple of weeks.
The solar powered camera will be mounted on buildings in high crime and vandalism areas and takes high resolution images if motion is activated.
“A pictures worth a thousand words”, said Staff Sergeant Beach of the Vanderhoof RCMP. “And with that picture, you can show it to the person and they can’t dispute what they did.”
Sgt. Beach added that if they don’t recognize someone in a photo, it will be printed and advertised in the newspaper until someone in the community recognizes them, a fact he hopes will reduce vandalism.
“It might deter them … especially when everyone in the community will know that they’ve done it.”
The camera has been used as a method to reduce crime levels in several other jurisdictions including Williams Lake where it has been reported as a great success.
“We spoke to an officer of the Williams Lake RCMP…about a year ago…we told him of our concern of vandalism and it sounds like a really great deterrent” said Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen.
Another key feature of the Flash Cam is a pre-recorded audio warning. If you enter a high crime area and stay there, you will hear an audio message, warning you that you are in a high crime area, and if you stay in that area, your picture will be taken.
After another space of three or four seconds, if the motion detector still detects somebody, it will take a picture.
In some instances, the RCMP may turn off the audio and so no warning will be announced.
“For example we might put it inside a place like the museum during the winter because like last year, and I expect it again this year, when it gets cold someone is continually breaking into the museum.
“For any commercial establishment if there’s a history where somebody breaks in we’ll stick the camera there and turn off the audio…because once they’re in, they have already committed the crime so we just take a picture. “
Beach says vandalism levels are low at the moment with the kids occupied in school, but come Christmas and springtime when levels increase, it should prove a real deterrent.
“Right now crime has taken a lull…but the time will come that we need access” said Thiessen.
“We wanted to ensure that we had purchased it and that the RCMP had it available for next spring should we require it”, he added.
The device costs approximately $7000 and has been paid for partly out of the district budget, and partly by money given from the Vanderhoof Chamber of Commerce. Operational costs will come out of the RCMP budget.
“We’re going to do whatever it takes to make our community more secure” said Thiessen.